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StormWatch: New BlackBerry launches to mild thunderous applause

Due to hit the stores on the 14th, the BlackBerry Storm comes to us as their first full touch screen phone as if you were weren’t already aware.

What you might not be aware of is that instead of the phone being a RIM handset exclusive to Vodafone in Blightly and Verizon in the US of A, it was purposely built for them both.

Jointly, both carriers approached what appears to be a number of handset manufactures with a set of ideas for a phone exclusively for them.

When the norm, from our understanding is the reverse in nearly all the cases that we are aware of. With the possible exceptions being phones designed as an OEM venture, we’re thinking here of the SPV range on Orange from HTC. Still, in that case the phones manufacture loses its naming rights on the product but here you can clearly see it’s BlackBerry.

The remit we were told at the Storms event by Vodafone was that it needed to be a killer multimedia device, with an intuitive interface and that it ‘just works’.

Oddly enough the press launch was at the rear of the largest Apple store in Europe. Do we read something into that ? Yes, why not.

RIM wanted to move away from the old style resistant touch screens seen on the average touch screen phone seen around today, to a much more newer approach with this handset.

They also wanted, to quote RIM here ‘the navigation and confirmation associated with a mouse on a PC, where you move the mouse for navigation and click on a button for the confirmation’. This they began to introduce with the tracker ball found in the Pearl series and have now appeared to incorporate this philosophy in the Storm.

On board there is what’s known as a capacitive touch screen. This in its basic terms it means that no pressure is needed on the screen for an action to register – but this will only highlight the icon, for an example. This is coupled with a mechanically suspended screen, in which you do actually need to press down upon to action said icon. So there is resistance felt in each and every case, from typing to running an application to really anything really that needs to be done. Collectively these two are known as SurePress, RIM’s trademarked technology name for the both together.

Honestly, to see this in action and to use is a breath of fresh air for touch screen phones. It’s a shame that this deal is a life time exclusive to Vodafone and Verizon. All we can hope for is that this will transpire into another BlackBerry series at a later date.

On board they’ve bundled in 6 of the most popular instant message clients, with access to 10 of the most commonly used email services. Their Facebook client is a nice concept, which works along the lines of a push email based service. Here the user is notified on various activities and updates when they happen, a good feature for those of us who live life via FB status updates.

They’ve opened up the OS to have applications developed for them, which was first aired at the recent RIM developer’s conference. Here they are expecting many applications to be worked upon for the phone and others too. Think of Apple app store and you’ll have some idea of where they’re going with this.

There has been some criticism of late over the Storms battery life in the press, with its 6 hours talktime and 15 days in standby. We can see how many can be bothered by this by saying it won’t last a single day in use. Although we’re sure they’ll be benchmarks soon on how long it lasts in a real life situation, so stay tuned folks.

It’s missing WIFI, as we’re sure you’re all aware by now. As Vodafone are proud boys over their HSDPA network and wanted that to be the focus instead. A killer function we’ve always considered for good high speed networks is video calling and something we’re getting more and more into. So when we noticed there wasn’t a camera on its front we were puzzled. Vodafone’s response was “the iPhone doesn’t have one either”, which came out quite churlish.

Of course it’s going to be compared to the iPhone and who are we to disappoint by not bringing you some comparisons. In dimensions it’s 112.5 x 62.2 x 13.95 mm and 155g, with the Apple offering being 115.5 x 62.1 x12.3 mm and 133 grams. All of which means there isn’t too much of a muchness in physical difference.

The screen however is a different matter. We’ve already mentioned one part, and now how it looks. RIM’s offering is 480 x 360 and the iPhone, 480 x 320 with much lesser pixels per inch. Overall making the Apple handset appear to be less distinct in how you see a lot of the content. This is especially when viewing video as compared to the Storm, which does really shine here.

On the subject of content, there’s of course the Vodafone online music store which is adequate. Where they’re sadly lacking, and almost admitted by their silence on the matter is video. For us, the screen that size excels in displaying video and it’s just a shame Vodafone doesn’t have much of a content portal for that offering.

However, the desktop manager for the BlackBerry does have a form of Roxio built in. Meaning that you’ll be able to convert content for the Storm, which will just show up Vodafone’s lack of style in this matter.

Also, if you weren’t aware there is such a beast as a BlackBerry Media Sync for getting your iTunes on to the device. It first came to light we believe with the Bold and will be available for the Storm too.

It also appears there’s only going to be a 1GB microSD card accompanying the device, where we’ve been told that Verizon will be shipping 4GB. This is despite Vodafone highlighting that video content can be put on to the device as their own portal is inadequate. OK, then where Vodafone? With only 1GB to play with.

There will be a plethora of tariffs to suit all pockets, range from £25 with the phone costing £99 and starting from £35 with the phone being free.

Watch out for more of our thoughts on the handset as we get our grubby little hands on it soon, but for the time being we’re fairly happy with the consumer device.

17 replies on “StormWatch: New BlackBerry launches to mild thunderous applause”

“A killer function we’ve always considered for good high speed networks is video calling and something we’re getting more and more into. So when we noticed there wasn’t a camera on its front we were puzzled. Vodafone’s response was “the iPhone doesn’t have one either”, which came out quite churlish.”

er…..Rob, if you are indeed invoking the collective MIR 'we' then – what are you guys smoking!?!

Evidence please. Show me who uses videocalling. Why is it 'killer'? Can an MNO charge more for it? Will consumers pay more?

Videocalling came out of the 3GPP standards body more as a we-can-and-think-we-can-charge-the-earth-for-it-so-we-will rather than real consumer demand for it. People may have been asked if they wanted it in focus groups and responded yes. But If you ask me would I like my mobile to make coffee as well I might say yes too. Doesn't mean the practicalities will lead to heavy use.

There are quite basic physiological and psychological reasons why videocalling will NEVER EVER take off. No matter how good the quality, no matter how free. Even if you PAID people a small rate to receive videocalls, they wouldn't.

Reality check please MIR!

/m

that 'purpose built' thing is utter PR bullshit.
there is no way on earth vodafone / verizon drove this project from the drawing board
but got signed up LATE on at pre production stage.

this product would of come to market with or without them

Hmmm….as of right now, VF's site shows the £25 (600 minutes / UL* texts) tariff costing £300 up front for the Storm over 18 months – just a tad more than £99 mentioned above. And that has NO internet OR email. On a Blackberry. Yep.

You need to spend an extra £10/month to get email & web.

Seems to be £720 over 18 months is the cheapest way to get a Storm. Good for business users, but in these times pretty steep for a consumer.

*And here's one for Dan:

Unlimited Texts
The Unlimited Texts extra allows you to send unlimited amount of texts every month for free. Only available on an 18 month contract. Fair usage policy applies.

Unlimited Mobile Internet
Browse the internet on your mobile without a daily limit, our pack gives you unlimited Mobile Internet and web email access. (fair usage applies)

How did it go Dan? “f*^k you Unlimited, f*^k you in your face” 🙂

/m

Hi ‘Hello N96’,

This was mentioned to us by a senior Vodafone person AND a senior BlackBerry person, with no input from PR of any kind.

Rob

Hi ‘Mike42’,

Thank you for your comments overall 🙂

The ‘£25, with the phone costing £99’ was from a sheet Vodafone had the briefing on the day .. we expect it to be made public soon.

Rob

I completely agree – the video call we made on the show a few weeks back *really* was the fist time I had ever done it… and although fun (ish) on that occasion I can't think of a single occasion I'd use it in 'everyday life'…. and I get free video calling minutes on Three so I could without the high costs…!

C'mon Mr MacLeod!

What kind of team blog are you running here? laizzes faire or benevolent dictatorship? Where's the ducks in line? Which flagpole did this get run up? Who saluted?

(I'm waaaay too busy to think for myself, so prefer to outsource it to you guys)

/m (I think)

Apologies – sometimes independent thought does slip through the net. We'll set about a programme of 'voluntary' re-education for the people in question. In the meantime let's re-cap:

'Unlimited' – Bad.
'video calling' – toss.
'Stefan Constantinescucucucu's trousers' – 'from a market'.

Here endeth the lesson. Please stand for hymn 214.

….especially with their market share going down the pan and trouble all over…..they need something to stimulate interest…although at £25 / £99 up front, on a device likely to have cost them $200 at least (that new screen probably wipes out savings made dropping WiFi), such a tariff would look like a damp squib compared to VF's usual silly-money earners.

Time will tell…..

(I work for Vodafone – with some of the people responsible for Storm. My comments are unofficial and *highly* biased.)

Re: The Video Store. At the moment, there's no “iTunes”-esque video download shop. However, Vodafone live has mobile TV – so you can watch live TV on the device. You can also download the usual range of free and paid-for videos and clips (film trailers, x-factor, YouTube, comedy clips, adult, etc).

The device comes with 1GB built in – I'll agree that the extra 1GB isn't the most generous. That said, a 45 minute TV show usually encodes to about 350MB. Whack the encoding options down to compensate for the smaller screen and you can easily fit 4 – 5 hours of video on the device.

Oh, and video calling, I like it 🙂 I think as more and more businesses move to video conferencing to save money on travel, it could be a killer app next year. Mind you, there is a distinct lack of a 3G – IM bridge… so maybe not.

….especially with their market share going down the pan and trouble all over…..they need something to stimulate interest…although at £25 / £99 up front, on a device likely to have cost them $200 at least (that new screen probably wipes out savings made dropping WiFi), such a tariff would look like a damp squib compared to VF's usual silly-money earners.

Time will tell…..

(I work for Vodafone – with some of the people responsible for Storm. My comments are unofficial and *highly* biased.)

Re: The Video Store. At the moment, there's no “iTunes”-esque video download shop. However, Vodafone live has mobile TV – so you can watch live TV on the device. You can also download the usual range of free and paid-for videos and clips (film trailers, x-factor, YouTube, comedy clips, adult, etc).

The device comes with 1GB built in – I'll agree that the extra 1GB isn't the most generous. That said, a 45 minute TV show usually encodes to about 350MB. Whack the encoding options down to compensate for the smaller screen and you can easily fit 4 – 5 hours of video on the device.

Oh, and video calling, I like it 🙂 I think as more and more businesses move to video conferencing to save money on travel, it could be a killer app next year. Mind you, there is a distinct lack of a 3G – IM bridge… so maybe not.

here's some pr wool, its eye shaped, and has an easy pull tag.

senior people never say anything that PR hasn't told them too, unless it's about golf.

excuse my multi-disqus personality disorder.

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