BlackBerry Storm seen as enterprise ready, not just for consumers

IT managers are impressed with its style and its enterprise features

A funny thing happened on the way to marketing the BlackBerry Storm, the new wireless device from Research In Motion Ltd. that goes on sale later this year from Verizon Wireless.

While marketing experts, and apparently even RIM, expect the upcoming touch-screen device to make a big splash with consumers as a competitor to Apple Inc.'s iPhone, the Storm has also been making an impression among large business customers.

The reason: the Storm is a BlackBerry, the most widely used smart phone at large businesses, and it owes much of its success to the security it offers through RIM's Network Operations Center (NOC) in Canada.

Neither Verizon Wireless nor RIM would say today when the device will be sold in stores or what it will cost, but many bloggers said it will go on sale in late November. Tomorrow and Wednesday, developers at the BlackBerry Developer Conference in Santa Clara, Calif., will get more information about the device, which was first announced Oct. 8.

"It's kind of interesting, actually," said Brenda Boyd Raney, a spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless. "You would have initially thought the Storm was for the consumer, with its video capabilities and HTML browsing."

But Raney said enterprise customers have shown great interest in Storm when Verizon Wireless sales representatives have shown it to them in meetings during the past month or so.

"BlackBerry stands for quality to the enterprise, and the enterprise customer is also a consumer outside of the 9-to-5 job," she said. "We are finding enterprise customers liking the device and very enthusiastic about it."

The device could be easy for IT managers to accept, primarily because the BlackBerry has been preferred by large companies for years. The smart phone has a reputation for stability and for security bolstered with an added layer of protection through the NOC, Raney and analysts said. "There's already IT approval for the overall BlackBerry system," she said. Raney said enterprise users also don't seem deterred by two outages on parts of the RIM network in the past three years.

RIM released video of the BlackBerry Storm that showed its multimedia capabilities for consumers, using rock music as a background with colorful editing and graphics.

Verizon released this video of the Storm showing its business uses, including how a SIM card can be used by business travelers on the Vodafone network outside Verizon's Wireless CDMA network in the U.S.

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