RIM releases BlackBerry Storm2, touts improvements

Research In Motion announced the BlackBerry Storm2, the sequel to its first touchscreen device, in a coordinated media blitz. Two days after Verizon Wireless CEO Lowell McAdam touted the device in a New York Times article, RIM is promoting the product as one of its major launches for the holiday season. 

Verizon did not make any official announcement about pricing or availability for the device, but Vodafone announced that it will launch the new smartphone in seven European countries as well as South Africa.

"This is a dramatically different, dramatically enhanced product," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Bloomberg. Indeed, the phone has several advancements from the original, including WiFi and a new user input mechanism. The touchscreen now stays still when tapped, and provides tactile feedback electronically instead of mechanically, according to a review in the Wall Street Journal. The phone is expected to be one of the cornerstones of Verizon's holiday handset strategy, in addition to the Android phones it is expected to launch.

"We believe the Vodafone announcement is largely embedded in expectations (we expect late October launch) and expect Verizon to announce Storm2 for the holiday season," UBS analyst Maynard Um wrote in a research note. "We expect launches for Bold2 by U.S. and Canadian operators in late October."

In an interview with Reuters, Balsillie acknowledged that the company is prepared to launch new smartphones to keep pace with the likes of Apple, Palm and Motorola.

"We have a really rich (product) road map ... and we aren't slowing down," he said.

For more:
- see this slideshow comparison of the Storm vs. Storm2
- see this Storm2 video
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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