Despite a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, the new BlackBerry Storm has gotten off to a shaky start, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The Storm, which is Research In Motion's first touch-screen device, was supposed to be Verizon Wireless's iPhone killer. Verizon is the exclusive carrier for the Storm. Apple's iPhone is sold exclusively by AT&T. Verizon and RIM had supposedly been working on the device even before AT&T launched the original iPhone two and a half years ago.
The Storm launched in November, in time for the holiday-shopping season. And while it sold well initially with about 500,000 shipping the first month, the Journal reports that many customers who bought the device are complaining of buggy software and hardware glitches.
Specifically, consumers say that the software used to type on the touch screen, which requires you to press down on the face of the phone, is sluggish. I have used the device on and off since it was launched November 21, and I'd agree that it is clunky.
Other examples: the accelerometer that senses and changes the view on the screen when it's turned on its side is slow. And sometimes the "sure press" screen is difficult to use because it registers the wrong character.
Verizon and RIM rushed the device to market, perhaps before it was really ready, according to the Journal article. The newspaper notes that Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-CEO said the companies reached the Black Friday deadline "by the skin of their teeth," after they had missed a planned October debut.
A new software release came out in December to fix many of the bugs. Balsillie and others say that initial software glitches are just the reality for new smartphones that are increasingly becoming more complex. Apple was also forced to release software upgrades after its launch of the iPhone 3G to fix bugs.
The Journal also notes that the companies are working to improve future releases of the Storm including the ability to type on a full keypad while the phone is in portrait mode. Currently, users only see the truncated keypad that is used for the BlackBerry Pearl when the phone is portrait mode. This keypad has multiple letters per key.
Verizon Wireless isn't discussing exact sales figures for the Storm. A company representative told the Journal that the device has lived up to expectations and added that the percentage of returns of the device are in the single digits.
Industry analysts will be listening closely to the company's earnings call Tuesday for clues to how well the phone is doing. And they will be assessing whether the phone can in fact live up to the promise of being an iPhone killer. Apple has already garnered about 25 percent of the smartphone market in North America.