NEW YORK – Research in Motion may have a hit on its hands with the BlackBerry Storm smartphone.
Units sold out quickly at a Verizon Wireless store in midtown Manhattan Friday morning, the first day the touchscreen unit went on sale.
A saleswoman said the store had about 60 for sale when it opened its doors. Reuters reported they were all gone by 9 a.m. and that police were called to control angry customers who had waited outside in the cold for hours to buy one.
About 30 people were waiting in line at lunchtime just to try out a display model.
Store workers who took orders for units told customers they could expect delivery to their homes in five to seven business days.
Reuters also reported lines at stores in Washington, D.C., suburban New Jersey and San Francisco.
The Storm, the first touchscreen BlackBerry, sells for $200 with a two-year Verizon Wireless contract. It follows hot on the heels of the BlackBerry Bold, a more traditional BlackBerry with a full keyboard, which AT&T is offering for $300.
Both handsets, which are designed to keep the Apple iPhone from stealing more of the smartphone market, offer a revamped BlackBerry operating system that handles Web surfing and multimedia playback much better than earlier models.
But while the Bold and a cheaper, less powerful model, the Flip, offer Wi-Fi access, as do the iPhone and the "Google Phone," or T-Mobile G1, the Storm doesn't even have a Wi-Fi chip built in.
"That's Verizon," two men said, laughing, as they waited in line at the Manhattan store, referring to Verizon Wireless' reputed reluctance to let its customers use anything other than a pricey data plan to access the Internet.
Still, the carrier's reputation for reliable and clear coverage may dissuade loyal users from trading up to a WiFi device.
When shown a BlackBerry Bold as an alternative to the Storm, the two men shook their heads.
"That's another network," one said.