Customers line up for new BlackBerry Storm

BlackBerry Storms are flying off the shelves at some Verizon Wireless stores, as many shoppers were left empty-handed when stores ran out of initial inventory.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
3 min read

Hundreds of people lined up outside some Verizon Wireless stores to buy the new BlackBerry Storm on Friday, but many walked away empty handed.

Watch this: The BlackBerry Storm touches down

The Storm, which has been hyped for months, went on sale Friday morning. The device is the first BlackBerry phone to have a touch screen, making it a strong competitor to the Apple iPhone on AT&T's network. Since Verizon Wireless announced it would be the exclusive U.S. carrier for the Storm, the wireless operator has been expecting it to be a hit. In fact, it's the only new phone the company is introducing before the busy holiday season. Last year, Verizon launched four new phones before the holidays.

Reuters reported earlier Friday that more than 200 people lined up outside a Verizon Wireless store in midtown Manhattan, and the store was sold out of the new phone within an hour of opening at 8 a.m. Other stores in Washington, D.C. and New Jersey also had lines of 100 people or more, Reuters said.

And in San Francisco smaller lines of about 20 people waited outside Verizon stores at 8 a.m. Of course, these lines are small compared to the frenzy surrounding launches for the Apple iPhone. For both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G released in July, people waited in line for days outside Apple stores and AT&T stores around the country to be among the first to get their hands on the gadget.

Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, said that Verizon Wireless has plenty of BlackBerry Storms in its warehouses around and that customers who weren't able to get a phone on Friday will be able to order the phone and have it delivered to their homes within four to five days.

Raney also said that stores will be getting more shipments of Storms. She knew of three that had already gotten shipments this afternoon. Two stores in Manhattan, the Verizon Store on 34th St. and one at 1095 Avenue of the Americas, and one store in Paramus, NJ received shipments Friday afternoon.

Other stores may be getting shipments on Saturday, so customers may want to check out their local Verizon store over the weekend, she suggested.

Vodafone Group, one of Verizon Wireless's two parent companies, is selling the BlackBerry Storm in Europe. It also said it was struggling to meet demand for the storm when it launched the device, according to Reuters.

Initial reviews of the BlackBerry Storm have been fairly good. The device, which has a touch screen, media player, full browser and comes with 9 Gigabytes of storage (1 GB on the device and an 8 GB microSD card), is seen as a strong alternative to the iPhone for customers who prefer Verizon Wireless's network. But critics also point out the phone's shortcomings in comparison to the iPhone. For example touch screen requires users actually push down on the screen to select a button or click through a link, making typing on the device somewhat slow and cumbersome. And the biggest complaint is the Storm's lack of Wi-Fi, which is supported in the iPhone.