What's wrong with the BlackBerry Storm?

Research In Motion debuted its much-anticipated BlackBerry Storm device on Nov. 21, and many Verizon Wireless retail stores sold out of the touchscreen phone immediately--as of Monday, the operator's website reports new Storm orders will ship by Dec. 15, seven days later than the company promised a week ago. What's behind the delay? Neither RIM nor Verizon has offered an official explanation, and given that analysts forecast sales of 100,000 to 120,000 units based on preliminary sales, it's possible the Storm is simply in short supply. But there's another theory, supported by New York Times tech columnist David Pogue's blistering review of the device: The Storm is buggy as hell. Calling the Storm "the BlackBerry Dud" and likening the notion of a BlackBerry device without a keyboard to "an iPod without a scroll wheel, a Prius with terrible mileage [or] Cracker Jack without a prize inside," Pogue writes of "freezes, abrupt reboots, nonresponsive controls [and] cosmetic glitches," concluding that RIM has overextended itself by introducing too many new phones in too short a timeframe. "Web rumor has it that a bug-fix software update is in the works," Pogue says in summation.

Now The Boy Genius Report says it's running a leaked version of the updated BlackBerry Storm OS on its device, and the improvements over the previous incarnation are significant: Faster screen switching from portrait to landscape, longer battery life, a superior web browser and more efficient shuffling through personal media like music and photos. But BGR adds the operating system is far from perfect--the touchscreen keyboard sometimes disappears while typing, data connectivity remains slow and the camera application is "just all around chaos." There's no word on when or even if RIM will officially release version, let alone whether Verizon is test-driving the update, but either way it seems clear to expect a significant revamp of the Storm software in the imminent future. For now, this would-be "iPhone killer" poses more of a threat to RIM's reputation than Apple's smartphone dominance. -Jason