Vodafone has confirmed to siliconrepublic.com that the much anticipated BlackBerry Storm – Vodafone and RIM’s answer to the Apple iPhone 3G – will hit stores in the UK in mid-November, and stores in Ireland in late November/early December.
The spokesperson wouldn’t confirm precise dates, but the move will give Vodafone enough time to drive a wedge into the busy pre-Christmas sales season.
The new BlackBerry will be the first clickable, touchscreen phone purposely built for Vodafone, and will feature easy access to social networking sites, turn-by-turn satellite navigation, as well as music and video players.
The new smart phone is the fruit of a long-term strategic alliance between Vodafone and BlackBerry maker, Research in Motion (RIM), and will be available exclusively on Vodafone’s 3G networks in Ireland, the UK, mainland Europe, India, Australia and New Zealand.
The device – which will compete with the Apple 3G smart phone – will be available in the US under the Verizon brand. While no firm release date has been revealed, it is possible the device will launch around the same time in the US as the UK.
Best Buy Electronics has already begun taking pre-orders, and the Storm will be priced between US$200 and US$300 with a two-year contract.
The new device will be available via four initial price plans, with a number of free options on three of those plans: under Perfect Choice Access 100 plan, the Storm handset will retail for €109.99 and will cost €49.99 a month; under the Perfect Choice Access 200 plan, it will retail for €64.99 and will cost €64.99 a month; under the Perfect Choice Access 400 plan, it will retail for €69.99 and will cost €84.99 a month; and under the Perfect Choice Access 600 plan, it will retail for €49.99 and will cost €99.99 a month.
According to Vodafone, a number of free options for calls, texts and landline minutes will accompany the Perfect Choice Access 200, 400 and 600 price plans, whereby purchasers can choose between 100, 200 and 400 calls and texts or 100, 200 and 400 landline minutes respectively.
Additional call charges that will be applied to the pricing plans, if users go beyond their package allocation, will range between 18 cent and 30 cent, 11 cent per text message, €2 per megabyte of BlackBerry email and 2 cent per kilobyte of Vodafone Live.
By John Kennedy