RIM planning new version of BlackBerry Storm

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is developing a new version of its touchscreen Storm smartphone in a bid to drum up more interest in its gadgets among consumers, according to the company's co-CEO as reported by Reuters.

RIM's Jim Balsillie said the Storm--launched late last year through Verizon Wireless--has been "a huge success in terms of sales and adoption," though he did not provide specifics. The device suffered at its launch from generally unfavorable reviews as compared with Apple's touchscreen iPhone 3G, launched last summer.

Balsillie said RIM is working on a "next generation" Storm, along with a variety of other devices, according to Reuters reporting from the company's Capital Markets Day presentation to analysts and investors. And the goal, Balsillie said, is to break open the "large and untapped" consumer market for smartphones. He said more than half of RIM's 25 million subscribers now fall into the non-corporate category.

Despite Balsillie's proclamations, RIM appears to remain devoted to its core base of business users (a point worth noting considering Apple's recent marketing attempts to small- and medium-sized businesses). RIM made a number of enterprise-focused announcements in conjunction with its Capital Markets Day:

BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0: RIM said the new server, which is sold to businesses to push enterprise email and other information to workers' BlackBerries, now has improved IT management and monitoring. Specifically, RIM said its BES 5.0 sports a Web-based interface for centralized management and monitoring, along with role-based access controls, IT task scheduling and color-coded monitoring of the system's relative health.

BlackBerry Mobile Voice System Server for Cisco Unified Communications Manager: RIM said the integration will allow smoother call and message routing to BlackBerries through Cisco's call management system.

EAL4+ certification: RIM said its new BES 5.0 scored the Common Criteria Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ certification, which the company described as an "extensive and comprehensive evaluation by an independent third party" for security measures.

Interestingly, though, there also were a scattering of announcements geared toward consumers. RIM said its BlackBerry push application programming interface (API) is now available to developers targeting consumers. The API was previously available only in RIM's enterprise scenario, but will be extended to consumer-focused applications.

Further, AT&T announced it will sell RIM's new Curve 8900 smartphone "in the early summer." The phone is essentially an upgraded version of the 8300 Curve, but does not support AT&T's 3G network. The carrier did not disclose pricing for the device. T-Mobile USA currently sells the Curve 8900 for $150.

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