Blackberry releases soon its first touchscreen phone, Storm, which should please corporate CrackBerryheads as well as a more consumer market. Storm is one of the first phones to use haptic technology to make the touchscreen more tactile. “RIM has listened to users who find the iPhone's glass screen awkward to type on because its virtual buttons provide no tactile feedback. The Storm's whole screen is backed by springs, and when pressed, it gives under the finger,” said the Associated Press. Storm has better GPS than the iPhone, but no Wi-Fi. Its camera is also better than iPhone’s, but the multimedia screen is a little smaller at 3.25 inches. You can read and edit Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF files, as well as cut and past between programs, even when using the speakerphone. The phone has one gigabyte of memory, and is expandable to 16GBs with microSD cards. The battery provides six hours of talk time, fifteen hours of standby time.

Research in Motion, maker of the Blackberry, already controls more than half the U.S. smart phone sector. Despite its sexiness and success, and its broad mainstream appeal, Apple’s iPhone has only a quarter of the smart phone market. The number of cell phones with smart screens is expected to triple to 362 million by 2010.

Storm is definitely sexy, though aesthetically it’s a bit more ungainly than the iPhone’s minimalist chic. It will be available exclusively in the U.S. through Verizon (who lost a lot of customers to iPhone mania); in the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand, it will be exclusive to Vodaphone. Verizon is considered to have better network coverage than AT&T, iPhone’s carrier. Pricing and release date have yet to be revealed.

While the iPhone-killer market has been unexceptional, Storm has been getting pretty good write ups so far.

By Mark Alvarez