Classic one-trick pony Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) has learned a few new maneuvers. The BlackBerry Storm blends the usual business-friendly feature set with an iPhone-like look and feel. It even comes with an application store. Take that, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) !
The Storm ships to Vodafone and Verizon (NYSE: VZ ) Wireless stores around the world in November. It comes with a 3-megapixel camera, supports up to 16 gigabytes of memory, and features a touchscreen with tactile feedback. That's right -- you can feel when you touch buttons and objects on the screen, thanks to a spring-loaded display. That's a genuinely new feature, meant to overcome the somewhat numb interaction you get on iPhones and other current touchscreens.
This business-grade smartphone clearly has its sights set on the consumer market, too. The phone space between entertainment and enterprise is getting crowded thanks to business-minded iPhone apps, multitalented Androids, and prospective iPhone clones like the Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) 5800 and Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) Atila. Heck, even Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ) wants a piece of this action. BlackBerry fans do tend to be bigger fanatics than the rest, though. The rather milquetoast BlackBerry Curve has become a hit despite its dated feature set. If the Storm delivers on half its promise, this could be a sorely needed difference-maker for RIM, whose share price was cut in half after a downward guidance adjustment last month.
So RIM is still going to school and ready to adapt to the changing demands of finicky customers. I've been down on the company before, but the price drop gave us a more realistic valuation and the Storm will generate a few more BlackBerry converts. I say it's time for us investors to take Research In Motion seriously again.