To much fanfare, Research In Motion launched the BlackBerry Storm Wednesday -- a phone the company hopes will take on Apple and the iPhone. The Storm comes equipped with a new "intuitive touchscreen" that gives tactile feedback to users when "buttons" are pressed. This is different from the iPhone which gives no physical notice that an action has been performed.
Matt Buchanan at Gizmodo actually got to play with a Storm and says the screen technology, dubbed "ClickThrough" by RIM, "completely breaks the touchscreen paradigm" and, "surprisingly, it works."
"It's a unique and finely tuned sensation, and I liked it, but I could definitely see people loathing it," he added. Some iPhone users have had similar sentiment about the iPhone's touch-screen-only typing system.
The phone hasn't yet been released in the US, but will likely be available on the Verizon network. It remains to be seen if the BlackBerry Storm will cater to a more consumer audience like the iPhone does, but it likely will target business clients first -- that is, after all, RIM's bread and butter. However, the phone will be able to download music and movies, take photos (expect a camera-free phone to be available for sensitive work environments) and give location data via built-in GPS. The phone will also have extensive email and Web access.
Mike Lazaridis told the Times of London that the new touchscreen is like "actually pushing buttons" unlike the screen on the iPhone. "You don't have to learn" how to use it. The company claims the new touchscreen will allow typing as fast as on a traditional physical phone keyboard.
I've asked Verizon for a tester unit and hopefully will have some more feedback on the new interface once it's released. Like the iPhone, I won't know if this tech lives up to the hype until I try it. As for comparisons to the iPhone, Harry McCracken has written up a nice comparison between the Storm and the iPhone over at Technologizer.