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Stormy weather: RIM’s new device too hot

Similar to its like-named weather phenomenon, the launch of Research In Motion Ltd.’s Storm at Verizon Wireless has left mixed results. Sure, the resulting moisture and strong sales are needed, but the shaken nerves and rattled shoppers are after-effects that may take time to heal.
The device, which was officially unveiled at retailers on Nov. 21, was quickly in short supply, which led to frustrated shoppers. More than a week after the device was launched, some are still waiting for their device, while those that managed to get their hands on RIM’s latest push into the consumer market have had to adjust their expectations.
Overall, reviews seem to be positive for the Storm. Users who have turned to the Web to voice praises and concerns are consistent. Almost all reviewers say the e-mail synch and messaging capabilities are top notch – normal for BlackBerry fans – but the main gripe seems to be the Storm’s touchscreen and the allure of its “click” technology.
Bill Ho, industry analyst at Current Analysis, noted that the touchscreen aspect of the Storm might be a tough transition for some BlackBerry users, while those not familiar with the company’s Pearl or Curve models could be challenged by the new user interface.

Early frustrations
Ho said the Storm will be a good seller for Verizon Wireless, but the release-day challenges were notable.
“There was the frustration aspect of day one,” Ho said. “Some communication and supply issues; it got progressively worse as time zones woke up.”
Ho related one first-hand experience as one of his colleagues – a faithful Verizon Wireless fan – faced many challenges when trying to purchase the Storm on the release day. It seems most stores did not receive enough devices to meet the demand of hungry fans waiting outside.
The unnamed Current Analysis employee went on to say that once stores ran out of the handsets, ordering the device from the retail location became even more difficult, saying the computers were without SKUs and quickly bogged down.
The frustrated customer did note, however, that stores received more devices shortly after the initial batch ran out and offered deals to customers who would have to wait a day or two to receive the latest BlackBerry. This customer did end up purchasing the device when the second shipment came in, but had to go back to work while it was activated due to delays in the process. While this might not have been the experience for everyone, there were indeed upset customers who went home that day without a new device.
Verizon Wireless did not respond for comment on the Storm’s speedy sell-out or the activation snafus. But, in an attempt to lift frustrated customers’ spirits, the carrier said it will extend holiday shopping hours so customer have more time to demo the device. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a multitude of Storms on hand.
While first quantities were limited, Verizon Wireless did guarantee customers that they wouldn’t have to wait long. At one local store, employees said customers would have the Storm the next day, with no shipping costs. Brenda Raney, spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless, however, said customers would receive the device within 7 to 10 days.

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