With the BlackBerry Storm scheduled to hit US stores this Friday, the reviews have started trickling in.
Silicon Alley Insider reviews the phone and reports that while it’s a pretty good and solid phone, it still lacks the polish of the iPhone. SAI liked the clickable keyboard, but found the lack of WiFi and a comparable Apple App store to be significant negatives.
Engadget has an in-depth review, and while mostly positive, it wan’t a fan of the clickable screen:
“Rather than the click making things easier, it actually makes them more difficult. As you press down to engage a “key,” you’re required to release before moving to another, which means that you can only type so quickly. In our tests, we were constantly frustrated by the staggering, laggy movement when trying to type with any speed. You have to let the click depress before you can strike another character, and that makes for a stuttery input process. Additionally, hovering over characters is represented by a blue glow, which looks nice when moving around, but in practice doesn’t do a very good job of letting you know what key you’re touching. We had spelling errors aplenty. All of this would be helped greatly by an intelligent software component that guessed what you meant to type — much like the iPhone’s predictive element. Unfortunately, what RIM provides is more of a glorified T9, which means if you type “fo,” it doesn’t know you meant to type “do.” Ultimately we found ourselves slowly and carefully pecking out messages that should have taken less time to put together, clicking screen or not.”
Overall, Engadget concludes that while the Storm has many things going for it such as a sleek design, a crisp display, and software features such as Cut and Paste, it doesn’t quite measure up.
“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 then 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.”
CNET has a video review of the BlackBerry Storm which can be found here.
While it was initially thought that the clickable touchscreen would make or break the BlackBerry Storm, an often overlooked factor seems to be the success of the iPhone App store. Ironically, the iPhone was criticized when it was initially launched for not allowing third party apps. But the app store has emerged as a bona-fide marketplace for a wide variety of applications. Steve Jobs himself noted that immediate success of the App Store was something he’d never seen before in all his years in tech. Interestingly, more than 25% of all downloaded applications are games, and as such, Apple is attempting to position the iPhone/iPod touch as a gaming device as well. During the 80’s and 90’s, one of the reasons PC’s were able to garner a 95% market share was because the majority of applications wouldn’t run on Macs. Could a similar situation arise with the iPhone and its competitors? Will the differentiating factor between phones be their accompanying app stores, and not their feature set? It’s very possible, and BlackBerry is launching their own App store in order to compete in that same space. That might not be enough, however, as an app store is only as good as the developers who develop for it, and it remains to be seen if the BlackBerry Storm will be able to attract a critical mass of developers to make its store an attractive competitor to Apple’s.