The hunt for an Apple iPhone intensifies during the holiday season at the end of the year. One of the most eagerly awaited new contenders is the RIM (Research in Motion) Blackberry Storm, the company’s first touch-screen model. Already available in the United Kingdom, it debuts on November 19 in France and two days later in the United States.
Of all the competitors who seek to dethrone Apple from its position as market leader, RIM seems one of the most determined. In the last trimester, 6.1 million Blackberrys were sold throughout the world, just a little shy of the 6.8 million iPhones that were purchased.
In fact, the Storm is looking to lure buyers from the iPhone’s target market. In the United States, thanks to a discount offered by telecoms operator Verizon Wireless, the device will be sold for $200, the price of an iPhone. In the United Kingdom, Vodafone offers the new phone to customers who sign up for a two-year subscription for some £35 (€56) per month.
The Storm offers high-speed mobile internet access (via the 3G network) and has a suite of applications including a camera, a GPS and an internet browser. RIM’s imitation of the Apple model goes so far as to offer additional applications online in a fashion that brings to mind the Apple iStore.
For the time being, the iPhone has resisted attacks from the competition aimed at the market for touch-screen smartphones (telephones that function as small computers) and has remained in first place in terms of volume.
LG, the first manufacturer to have integrated a touch screen into its devices, has not yet succeeded in taking the iPhone fortress by storm but will soon release a new model, the Renoir, which comes equipped with a record-breaking 8-megapixel camera.
HTC, which comes in at second place with 20.6% of market share, launched its Touch Diamond in September and is hoping that its 3D visualisation function will be well received. The Korean firm is also the manufacturer of the first portable phone to partner with Google, the G1, the launch of which could eclipse the current buzz over the iPhone.
For its part, the leader in cell phones, Nokia, has planned its touch-screen smartphone release for 2009.
This mad rush of product rollouts is by no means random: a recent Nielsen study revealed that more than 30% of smartphone users plan to buy a new model in the coming year.