RIM poised to Storm back into consumer market

Research In Motion is hoping to capture the imagination--and wallets--of a fresh wave of consumers when Verizon Wireless launches its BlackBerry Storm2, perhaps as soon as this week.

A report in the New York Times says that the carrier is set to announce--if not formally launch--the smartphone this week. That dovetails with widespread Internet rumors indicating a pending launch of the device, which RIM executives earlier this year said was in development. WiFi and a revamped touchscreen user interface, to make typing easier, are among the Storm2's rumored advancements.

A Verizon spokeswoman declined to comment on the report. RIM representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Though the original Storm, released in November, has sold more than 1 million units, it suffered from tepid reviews and some user complaints. Nonetheless, the Storm, and the pending Storm2, represent RIM's clear intentions to combat iPhone maker Apple in a race to the consumer market.

Indeed, RIM has made no secret of its desire to expand from its enterprise base, and co-CEO Jim Balsillie recently indicated that the company would have momentum going into the holiday season thanks to an "impressive product portfolio." On the company's quarterly earnings conference call last month, Balsillie said that RIM had reduced the price of some its devices in anticipation of newer ones coming to market (the first generation Storm costs $49.99 on Verizon's site, along with the requisite rebates and contract). Further, Balsillie said RIM plans a major advertising push to coincide with the critical holiday shopping season.

Interestingly, according to the NYT article, RIM also plans to launch its own private communication network in November, which the company said will give users not only their email but a constant flow of social networking and entertainment content updates. The article did not provide details.

For more:
- see this NYT article

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