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  #1  
Old 11-22-2008, 06:26 PM
Vincent Ferrari
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Default Storm Brews, Turns to Drizzle

<p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/at/auto/1227373798.usr18053.jpg" border="1" /></p><p>The LG Voyager. The Dare. The Samsung Glyde. The Samsung Instinct. The T-Mobile G1.</p><p>They've all come and gone quite quietly, haven't they? For all the marketing hype about the Instinct and Sprint's absolutely gigantic ad campaign, it's gone nowhere. The LG Voyager? Touch may do more on the nation's largest 3G network, but if no one has the phone, they'll never know. The Dare? Never actually seen one in the wild. The Glyde? Almost every gadget site that reviewed it said it had the worst browser they had ever seen on a phone. The G1? Niche for now, and way close to "slapped together with duct tape" to be taken seriously (although honestly, I do expect that to change in the coming months).</p><p>And now we can add the BlackBerry Storm to the list. Congratulations tech press; you've invented yet another "iPhone Killer."<MORE /><span style="font-size: medium;"></span></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: medium;">The "Perfect" Storm</span></strong><br />Earlier this month Apple passed RIM as the number two smartphone maker in the world and is close on the heels of Nokia in units sold (although as I've said way back when I was writing for PocketPC Thoughts, I don't count Nokia because few people "choose" Symbian, they just get it with a phone they want, but that's another story). Yesterday, RIM launched its iPhone killer attempt 2, the Storm. You may remember attempt 1: the Bold. What RIM was touting as their next generation BlackBerry really just amounted to a Curve with a better screen and keyboard. The Storm is now expected, by both Verizon and them, to be the iPhone killer the Bold wasn't because, and this is the laughable part, it has a touch screen. Apparently all you need to do to beat Apple at the smartphone game is stick a touchscreen on your phone and call it better.</p><p>In reality, the Storm is really nothing new. When you strip off the clicking screen, it's just another BlackBerry with the same software that plays more multimedia stuff. Videos of it in action show the UI to be nice but, at times, laggy. Keyboard presses aren't as natural as the iPhone's because you have to actually make the screen click to register a press. Time Magazine's Anita Hamilton <a href="http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1860717,00.html" target="_blank">summarized the much-hyped input method thusly</a>:</p><blockquote><em><strong>The trouble with having to push down on the entire 3.2-inch screen every time you type a letter or confirm a menu choice is that it slows you down. The idea behind the clickable screen is that it will minimize errors by getting you to think before you press. Instead, it took much of the fun out of using the device.</strong> While some people complain that the iPhone's touchscreen is a little too slick and imprecise - of the three devices, I tend to make the most typos with the iPhone - at least it's fast. And while the G1's mini, Chiclet-size keys seem designed for Lilliputians, they are accurate and respond even when pressed with the edge of a fingernail. The Storm's click screen, on the other hand, demands the strength of your entire thumb. What's more, the screen jiggles in the phone's casing when you press on it, which makes it feel cheap.</em></blockquote><p>While I give credit to RIM for coming up with something new, it seems to have failed in elevating the user experience to a new level. I'll let people figure out what works best for them, and this could be a case of first-time jitters with people just getting used to something new, but something tells me we'll be hearing this complaint a lot in the coming weeks.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/at/auto/1227374312.usr18053.jpg" border="1" /></p><p><strong><span style="font-size: medium;">The Press Loves a Fight</span></strong><br />The flaws and shortcomings of the Storm won't stop the press from declaring it an iPhone killer, or at least pointing out that Apple should be scared. <a href="http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-10105263-17.html?tag=mncol;title" target="_blank">Don Reisinger at C-Net</a> spent a few hundred words telling us how a minor maintenance release to the iPhone in version 2.2 (launched yesterday) meant that Apple was scared of RIM's new shiny toy.</p><blockquote><em>Apple realizes that RIM is releasing a major offering that could shake Steve Jobs and Co. to its core, and it doesn't want anyone to think it's not doing everything it can to continually update its own product.</em><p><em>But Apple's decision to release the update just as RIM releases the Storm strikes me as one of the most fascinating moves the company has made in quite some time. After checking out the update and considering the timing, I can't help but wonder if Apple is more than a little concerned about the BlackBerry Storm and RIM in general.</em></p><p><em>[...]</em></p><p><em>Say what you will, but Apple is scared. And it should be.</em></p></blockquote><p>Cue the dramatic music, Don.</p><p>He continues on that RIM has numerous advantages: the removable battery, copy and paste, video recording, tethered data, and tactile feedback. Apparently, this is what's meant to shake Apple to its core. In his rush to declare the uber killer winner for 2008, Reisinger ignores the fact that the iPhone has an App store with thousands of apps (the Storm has one too, but can't touch the quantity of available apps), integration with the number one music retailer in the world, movie rentals, podcast support, and an online music store on the device whose prices are half that of Verizon's offering. Oh yeah, and did we mention the WiFi? The Storm doesn't have it. In 2008.</p><p>Reisinger says he is convinced after seeing Apple's update that it's scared of RIM, but has he seen RIM's offering? Probably not. I'd hazard a guess that it hasn't made its way into his hands yet. Here's what <a href="http://www.engadget.com/2008/11/19/blackberry-storm-review/" target="_blank">Engadget had to say</a> about it:</p><blockquote><em>Over the last few weeks we've been bombarded with commercials, leaks, press releases, and special events all celebrating the arrival of the Storm, both here and abroad. So it seems fairly obvious that yes, the companies believe they have a real contender on their hands -- and in many ways they do. The selling points are easy: the phone is gorgeous to look at and hold, it's designed and backed by RIM (now almost a household name thanks to their prevalence in the business and entertainment markets), and it's packed with features that, at first glance, make it seem not only as good as the iPhone, but better. The only hitch in this plan is a major one: it's not as easy, enjoyable, or consistent to use as the iPhone, and the one place where everyone is sure they have an upper hand -- that wow-inducing clickable screen -- just isn't all that great. For casual users, the learning curve and complexity of this phone will feel like an instant turn off, and for power users, the lack of a decent typing option and considerable lagginess in software will give them pause. RIM tried to strike some middle ground between form and function, and unfortunately came up short on both.</em><p><em>Going into this review, we really wanted to love this phone. On paper it sounds like the perfect antidote to our gripes about the iPhone, and in some ways it lives up to those promises -- but more often than not while using the Storm, we felt let down or frustrated. Ultimately, this could be a great platform with a little more time in the oven, but right now, it feels undercooked -- and that's not enough for us.</em></p></blockquote><p>Yeah. Apple should be scared.</p><p><PAGE /><strong><span style="font-size: medium;">Time for a Reality Check</span></strong><br />Calling something a name doesn't make it true, and in this case calling an iPhone killer doesn't make it true. Every time a new phone with a touchscreen comes out from now until the end of the world, every touch screen phone will be compared to the iPhone because it's the market-leader at the moment.</p><p>In the end, I hope that one day Apple does face some stiff competition. Any time someone gets too much market share in any market segment they become arrogant and complacent. Microsoft had done so with Windows Mobile only to face a strong surge from RIM and Apple. Apple does it currently with the iPod and their iPod line (not counting the Touch and the iPhone) are in serious need of innovation at the moment. RIM did it with their handhelds and moved out incremental updates to almost the same form factor for almost 10 years.</p><p><img src="http://images.thoughtsmedia.com/resizer/thumbs/size/600/at/auto/1227374643.usr18053.jpg" border="1" /></p><p>I would love to see Apple face a serious competitor that would offer something that would lure me away from the iPhone, but I've yet to see it. The closest anyone has come is the G1, and after using one for a few days, I'm not 100% sure that's the answer. Yet. I'm just tired of the tech press hyping something as an iPhone killer only to later watch it fall flat on its face. In this case, the Storm was RIM's savior and the reviews have, at best, been lukewarm.</p><p>Maybe next time a company decides to release a phone, we won't hear it's an iPhone killer until it actually kills the iPhone, or in Don Reisinger's case, until you've actually had the "killer" in closer proximity than a web page photo.</p><p>What a novel idea.</p><p><em>Vincent Ferrari is an Apple fan, videoblogger, blogger, writer, and all-around geek from the Bronx. He works in the IT Department of a cellular phone company that shall not be named, and lives in a very comfortable apartment with his lovely wife, two lovely cats, three Macs, two iPhones, and God-knows-how-many iPods of varying age.</em></p>
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  #2  
Old 11-22-2008, 07:25 PM
crimsonsky
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I just moved to a Blackberry Curve a few weeks ago and really enjoy the device. I would have loved to get a Bold just for its superior screen and more memory, but T-Mobile doesn't carry it. Yet seeing all the hype about the Storm and reading about it on the Blackberry enthusiast sites I found myself having absolutely no interest in it whatsoever (not to mention I can't get one anyway as long as I stay with T-Mobile).

Outside of the enthusiast sites, most reviews of the Storm have been lukewarm to negative. I'm not a fan of touchscreen devices anyway, and nothing I saw about the Storm seems to change my mind.

Instead of touting these things as iPhone killers, it would be better if the devices were marketed on their own strengths, period. But we know that is not going to happen. Apple has really shaken up the mobile space when every competitor wants to beat it, yet few seem to capture that Apple "magic" that works so well for them.
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Last edited by crimsonsky; 11-22-2008 at 07:27 PM..
 
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  #3  
Old 11-22-2008, 07:49 PM
Macguy59
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A buddy of mine has an iPhone 2G and gets awful to zero reception at his house. In fact AT&T was going to let him out of his contract without having to pay a termination fee because of that. He went to a Verizon store to check out the Storm . . . played with it . . . he's keeping his iPhone. The only positive thing he could say about his time with it was that the screen quality was nice. UI was slow. Browser sucked and he felt like you needed to press [really] hard to get the OS to recognize it. Plus no Wi-Fi and it was a brick.
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Old 11-22-2008, 09:11 PM
Vincent Ferrari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crimsonsky View Post
Instead of touting these things as iPhone killers, it would be better if the devices were marketed on their own strengths, period. But we know that is not going to happen. Apple has really shaken up the mobile space when every competitor wants to beat it, yet few seem to capture that Apple "magic" that works so well for them.
I completely, totally, and wholeheartedly agree. That is exactly what so many companies are doing wrong in the post-iPhone world.
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Old 11-23-2008, 05:21 AM
doogald
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I honestly have no idea why Don Reisinger continues to have a job. He seems to be wrong all of the time.

That said, cnet is reporting that there is a lot of interest in the Storm at VZW stores - people are lining up or it.
 
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:28 PM
Deslock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Ferrari View Post
In reality, the Storm is really nothing new.
I wouldn't be so dismissive of the Storm. Though it's not mentioned often, one of the iPhone's most significant innovations is its capacitance touchscreen (when it comes to finger input, resistive touchscreens blow big fat oozing chunks). The G1 and the Storm are the only other phones -I know of in the USA anyway- that are capacitance based.

After playing with the G1, I'd call it rough around the edges but a sweet device nonetheless. If the iPhone didn't exist, I'd have one.

As far as the Storm goes, there has been significant demand from enterprise managers and executives to get iPhones, but many IT departments haven't been keen on them. Apple has improved security and Exchange compatibility, but change is slow and many companies will offer Storms instead of supporting the iPhone. There are also some consumers who refuse to get an iPhone because they're turned off by its trendiness.

My prediction: the iPhone will continue to be a big hit in the consumer market while making minor inroads into enterprise. The Storm wont sell nearly as many units overall, but will be successful in its intended markets.
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  #7  
Old 11-23-2008, 03:45 PM
Vincent Ferrari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doogald View Post
I honestly have no idea why Don Reisinger continues to have a job. He seems to be wrong all of the time.
Don Reisinger has gone from an edgy outspoken technology writer to a linkbaiter. He has a very distinct MO that he follows very often:

1. Complain about no one criticizes Apple.
2. Criticize Apple.
3. Brag about how independent a thinker it makes him.
4. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In the case of the storm, his conclusion that some minor updates to the iPhone OS meant Apple is terrified of RIM (even though the updates have nothing to do with features that the Storm has) is ridiculous. His assertion that Apple should be scared of it flies in the face of every hands on review that says it isn't all that great. In other words, Reisinger is simply linkbaiting. Did I indulge him a bit just by writing about him? Maybe, but I think exposing frauds is as important as ignoring them and avoiding them.
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:47 PM
onlydarksets
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Ferrari View Post
I completely, totally, and wholeheartedly agree. That is exactly what so many companies are doing wrong in the post-iPhone world.
Part of the problem is that the media won't let them. Anything with a touchscreen gets compared to the iPhone, as if it's a criteria to enter the phone market. They are almost forced to address is up front, or it's held against them. Mossberg is the worst about this. I don't think he has reviewed a phone in the last year without comparing it to the iPhone.
 
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:50 PM
Vincent Ferrari
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deslock View Post
I wouldn't be so dismissive of the Storm. Though it's not mentioned often, one of the iPhone's most significant innovations is its capacitance touchscreen (when it comes to finger input, resistive touchscreens blow big fat oozing chunks). The G1 and the Storm are the only other phones -I know of in the USA anyway- that are capacitance based.
I'm not dismissive of the Storm as a whole, I'm just pointing out that this particular iteration of it isn't that great. Based on the majority of reviews of people who have actually used one, I'd say that's accurate.

Secondly, the iPhone's most significant innovation is not the screen itself, but the OS that powers it and how it was designed from the ground up to be different than anything people had ever used before. It was designed to be touched, swiped, and rotated. The Storm appears as if they shoved RIM's existing OS into a new shell with a touchscreen.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deslock
After playing with the G1, I'd call it rough around the edges but a sweet device nonetheless. If the iPhone didn't exist, I'd have one.
Of course. I would also. I think I pretty much said as much in the column. The G1 and Android itself are the best chance the industry has at breaking the stranglehold the iPhone is developing on the market.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deslock
As far as the Storm goes, there has been significant demand from enterprise managers and executives to get iPhones, but many IT departments haven't been keen on them. Apple has improved security and Exchange compatibility, but change is slow and many companies will offer Storms instead of supporting the iPhone. There are also some consumers who refuse to get an iPhone because they're turned off by its trendiness.
Those enterprise managers who want an iPhone are going to settle for the Storm, but as we've already seen, they aren't going to necessarily be happy about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deslock
My prediction: the iPhone will continue to be a big hit in the consumer market while making minor inroads into enterprise. The Storm wont sell nearly as many units overall, but will be successful in its intended markets.
I think the Storm without major revisions is going to be just another iPhone killer that fell flat on its face.
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Old 11-23-2008, 03:54 PM
onlydarksets
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vincent Ferrari View Post
I think the Storm without major revisions is going to be just another iPhone killer that fell flat on its face.
Have you used one yet? I haven't gotten to the VZW store, but hopefully this week. I recall that iPhone typing sucked for the first couple of weeks, but once I got used to it it worked pretty well. The UI, while not your cup of tea obviously, is familiar to millions of users.

RIM is also pretty good about pushing out updates, so expect revisions more along the line of Apple's iPhone than Microsoft's Windows Mobile.
 
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