You know that funky touch-screen BlackBerry that all the kids are gab-gabbin’ on and on about? Yeah, the BlackBerry 9530. Well, it looks as though Research In Motion (RIM) and Verizon Wireless, the exclusive Storm provider in the United States, may launch a new and improved version of the popular device to address two long-standing user-complaints: the Storm’s lack of Wi-Fi and its less-than-perfect SurePress display and virtual keyboard.
That’s right, a new BlackBerry Storm is on the horizon, according to SlashGear, which reports that Verizon has okayed a September launch for the “Storm 2.” Additional details are scattered, but the Storm 2 will supposedly pack Wi-Fi, as well as a new, improved “TruePress” keyboard that “improves the screen enormously and makes typing really pleasurable,” BGR reports.
This shouldn’t come as any real surprise to the eagle-eyed BlackBerry watcher. The first Storm hit the U.S. market in late November. That would make a September 2009 launch almost exactly one year after the initial Storm release. And rumors of a Wi-Fi-enabled North American Storm have been bouncing around the blogosphere for months. Consider Verizon’s impressive success with its first-gen Storm 9530, and it’s only logical for the carrier to follow up with another device that makes good on some of its predecessor’s ills.
Verizon has long been criticized for leaving out Wi-Fi from its high-end BlackBerrys and other smartphones. The carrier has traditionally worried that Wi-Fi would let its customers employ the Verizon data network less frequently, which could in turn eat into the company’s profits. Other U.S. carriers have embraced Wi-Fi, most notably T-Mobile, and a Wi-Fi-enabled Storm would represent a major shift in Verizon’s strategy–and one for the better.
The Storm is in direct competition with Apple’s touch-based iPhone, as well. Apple is expected to announce the third-generation iPhone during its June Worldwide Developer Conference. That new iPhone will very likely buff away a bit more of the first-gen Storm’s shine. So RIM and Verizon will need a trick of their own to grab back some of the iPhone spotlight. And a Storm 2 launch a few months later could prove to be just what the ol’ doc ordered.
I wholly expect to see a revamped Storm before the end of 2009; I’ll be genuinely surprised if I don’t. The Storm is Verizon’s best selling BlackBerry, with more than a million units shipped in 2008 alone. Despite mountains of criticism from Storm users–myself included–RIM actually won a Mobile World Congress award for the Storm’s SurePress screen. It’s hard to argue that success. And it would be silly for RIM or Verizon to ignore it.
So I say: Bring on the Storm 2! (I just hope RIM learned its lesson the first time around and the thing ships with a decent OS build, so we can avoid another Storm launch fiasco…)
Via SlashGear and BGR
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