The BlackBerry Storm is no iPhone

Don Reisinger thinks the BlackBerry Storm is great in its own right, but it can't quite compete with the iPhone. Is that true?

Tech journalists and gadget lovers across the globe are rejoicing over the announcement of the BlackBerry Storm, RIM's first touchscreen cell phone to compete with the iPhone.

Those who can't wait to get their hands on BlackBerry's latest call it a marvel and its keyboard functionality, which makes you press down on the screen to register a "touch", is something worth drooling over.

OK, I guess I can concede that the Storm is really neat and the touchscreen idea is fantastic. But I still don't see how the BlackBerry Storm will be able to compete on any level with the iPhone 3G.

It's not that I have a problem with RIM--I think the BlackBerry Curve is a fantastic device--or that I'm not impressed by the Storm. I just don't see how BlackBerry's first touchscreen device can compete against the iPhone if the vast majority of "mainstream" users simply don't know anything about it.

Go ahead and ask the person next to you at the office about the BlackBerry Storm. Chances are, if they aren't in to technology like you and I, they wouldn't have the slightest clue about it even though it's making headlines all over the tech world today.

Then ask those people what they knew about the iPhone the day after it was announced. I'll bet you'll find that they knew much more about the iPhone than the BlackBerry Storm.

Do you see what I'm getting at here? No matter how important a new device in the cell phone business may be to the growth of the industry, it will never be able to outshine the iPhone.

And that's where RIM finds itself now. The BlackBerry Storm is an incredibly appealing device in its own right and slowly, but surely, the device will make its way into the mainstream as reports break out about its functionality and usability, but until that happens, it's a mystery to the average user.

In contrast, the iPhone wasn't a mystery to anyone once Steve Jobs showed it off at his Stevenote. The mainstream media was in attendance to see what he had up its sleeve and reported on every last detail. On launch day, every single major media outlet was chomping at the bit to cover the cell phone industry's latest and greatest offering.

Will that happen with the BlackBerry Storm? Uh, no. Instead, the Storm will be covered by a select few media outlets in the middle of a newscast and quickly forgotten about after that. There won't be local stations covering lines around the Verizon store and even when it's released, the average person probably won't know about it.

So how does RIM fight the Apple onslaught and the mainstream media that only cares about Steve Jobs?

It can't.

All RIM can do is keep releasing compelling products that make businesses and the tech-savvy crowd take notice and wait for that knowledge to trickle-down into the mainstream. Sure, it won't be easy, but it needs to be done.

Apple has help with every product it releases, but RIM doesn't have that luxury. So no matter how great the Storm will be, it doesn't matter.

It's sad, but true.

Check out Don's Digital Home podcast, Twitter feed, and FriendFeed.

About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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