BlackBerry Storm seen as enterprise ready, not just for consumers

IT managers are impressed with its style and its enterprise features

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"The fact the Storm is fabulously stylish makes it all the more compelling a reason to get it," Raney said.

Ron Ridley, a network analyst at St. Luke's Episcopal Health System in Houston, said the approximately 200 BlackBerry users at his organization will probably like the Storm, and he is eager to have Verizon Wireless provide a full demonstration of the new touch screen and other features.

"People always like new and shiny tools," Ridley said in an interview. He said he has evaluated a simulation of the Storm online but still needs to see how the touch-screen keyboard performs. Even if he doesn't like it personally, Ridley said he won't ban the device, saying that users will find ways to go around IT.

Ridley said he has noticed that RIM has run TV ads to attract consumers to the BlackBerry, following the success of the iPhone. "BlackBerry is expanding to the consumer" and has included iTunes synchronization in the Storm, he noted. The Storm would be the kind of "device you do business with and then have also as your personal phone."

And while St. Luke's won't support the iPhone because of security and support worries, Ridley said Storm will have the kind of security and support he has grown to like from using BlackBerries. Two outages on the BlackBerry network in the past three years "are a slight bug in the back of my mind," he said, but added that he still has been able to solve BlackBerry problems by calling RIM directly, bypassing Verizon Wireless if necessary.

Some analysts agree that the Storm will appeal to large enterprises. RIM is aiming the BlackBerry Storm at the consumer market, but the Storm is likely to become the first credible touch-screen device for mobile professionals, said Kevin Burden, an analyst at ABI Research in New York, in a recent report.

The back-end infrastructure that RIM provides will draw enterprise IT shops to the Storm, he added.

Burden said the Storm will compare favorably to the iPhone with its multitouch capabilities and its touch screen. In both the Storm and the iPhone, the touch screen adds to the total experience in ways that other phones have not been able to do, he added. And Burden said that the Storm might have an advantage over the iPhone there, since its touch screen has a tactile feedback capability unavailable in the iPhone.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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