RIM said to be working on touch-screen-capable BlackBerry

The device, called 'Thunder,' would be sold by Verizon Wireless in the U.S.

A touch-screen-capable BlackBerry is in the works, according to reports, and is expected to be introduced sometime in the third quarter by Verizon Wireless and Vodafone Group PLC in Europe.

Called the Thunder, it would be based on a true touch screen similar to the one used by the Apple Inc.'s popular iPhone, and it would not have the keypad common to other BlackBerry devices, according to reports. Instead, it would have only four physical keys and no slide-out keyboard, according to "The "Boy Genius Report" and The Wall Street Journal.

A spokeswoman for Verizon Wireless and officials at Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, would not comment late Friday.

RIM announced a more typical new BlackBerry device earlier this week, the BlackBerry Bold, which will run on faster 3G networks. Officials described it as being for power users and consumers willing to spend more than they would for a typical cell phone.

A RIM marketing official also said this week in an interview with Computerworld that the company is not looking to compete directly with the iPhone to reach a consumer audience instead of the BlackBerry's more traditional business users. RIM said the Bold came in response to requests by customers.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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