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Quick Hit: BlackBerry Springs Forward With Touch-Screen


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Life may not imitate Apple, but Research in Motion (RIMM) has copied its competitor's touch screen and added a twist.

Research in Motion, best known for the BlackBerry, has abandoned the device's keypad in favor of a large screen for its new phone, the BlackBerry Storm.

The twist: springs.

Some users have said Apple's (AAPL) iPhone's screen is difficult to use because there is no tactile feedback when typing on its virtual buttons. The Storm's screen has springs behind it that that give when touched.

The Storm will be available on Verizon (VZ) Wireless before Christmas and overseas on Vodafone (VOD). The price for the new phone hasn't been announced.

The Storm will come with equipment needed to handle the incompatible networks offered by Verizon and Vodafone, opening the possibility of international roaming. This will allow the new device to compete with Apple's iPhone, which is carried by AT&T (T) and can roam internationally.

As a Web browser, the Storm can distinguish between a light tap and a firm press. A tap moves the cursor while a firm press activates a link. This is intended to emulate the use of a mouse on a personal computer to move the cursor and clicking the mouse button to open a link.

The Storm will slug it out with the G1 and iPhone, which some users have found incomparably nifty. At first the Storm will lack anything like Apple's iTunes movie store, but short clips will be available through Verizon's VCast service.

Verizon now offers touch-screen phones, but it's the last of the four national US brands to market a top-of-the-line smart phone with a touch-screen. AT&T offers the iPhone, Sprint Nextel (S) offers the Samsung Instinct and T-Mobile offers Google's (GOOG) G1.
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