BlackBerry Storm Blows Back In Smart Phone Smackdown

I was wrong.

RIM didn’t skimp on Bold promotions to re-direct funds to campaigns for the BlackBerry Storm. The Storm seems to have generated way more interest than one would’ve expected from the ads that RIM ran prior to its touch-screen phone’s sales debut last week.

By now you’ve heard the stories, such as the one about cops having to quell an “angry ruckus” in Manhattan, after not everyone in a wait queue of 200 got their hands on a Storm. That’s the kind of behavior–and branding–a marketer can’t just buy!

Mass Contained hysteria is one reason why mobile marketers should keep an eye on the Storm. The larger the number of people using the new phone, and the wider the demographic of users, the more important the BlackBerry will be to reach consumers–for email and SMS marketing, as well as for mobile Internet campaigns like online ads. The Storm is RIM’s biggest foray into consumer mobile technology since the Pearl–and we all remember how non-business users took to that handset.

The Storm tries to do two things: (1) Please hardcore BlackBerry users, with its tactile SurePress touch screen that aims to replicate typing on any CrackBerry before it; and (2) entice consumers who like the look and vision behind the iPhone, but who also want what RIM offers and Apple lacks. Such as a video camera, the ability to send SMS to more than one recipient, the ability to send a picture text/MMS, copy-and-paste, removable battery, etc. Like the iPhone, it also has an accelerometer, which lets the screen rotate between vertical/portrait and horizontal/landscape mode.

Of course, iPhone advocates are quick to point out how certain things–like Web-browsing and flipping through files–are so much better on the Apple mobile. BlackBerry fans admit the Storm isn’t perfect–the switching between screen modes seems to either jump the gun or not work at all, for example. It also doesn’t have Wi-Fi. The latter is too bad, considering the FCC is opening up frequencies that are soon to be abandoned by TV, which will then be used to create Wi-Fi networks all over the United States–and let smart phone users get on the Internet even when they can’t access broadband-over-cellular networks.

Ultimately, no one (well, except for iFanboys) is sure if the Storm’s shortcomings are enough to keep adopters away. Or if its assets will attract first-time consumers and BlackBerry enthusiasts alike, especially during the holidays–which last year was when RIM spanked Apple. Personally, I believe the latter. The BlackBerry name enjoys brand loyalty enough that its Storm will probably help RIM keep customers who considered abandoning their meaningful relationship in favor of a new trophy wife. Others wanting a smartphone with the latest bells and whistles are going to seriously consider the Storm.

I’d like to hear from anyone who actually bought and is using the Storm. Even better, what about a shout-out from those who’ve used the iPhone and/or G1? I want to know what general users, not gadget reviewers or early-adopters, have to say about all three. After all, they’re the vast majority of the audience that mobile marketers want to reach!