The Wall Street Journal reports that Research In Motion (RIMM) is planning to release its touch-screen Blackberry 9500 -- codenamed Thunder -- in the third quarter of this year.
The article states that Verizon Wireless will have a "lifetime" exclusive on the handset in the U.S. Vodafone (VOD), which is a partner in Verizon Wireless along with Verizon Communications (VZ - Get Report), will be the exclusive agent worldwide.
This means the Thunder will probably be jammed-packed with radio circuitry - CDMA and EV-DO for the United States, as well as GSM/EVDO/EDGE/HSDPA for other countries. There's also information that states the phone will be able to handle what looks like the next big thing -- the 4G wireless data technology called LTE.
Today's report comes on the heels of RIM's announcement last week of its upcoming, feature-laden, AT&T/Blackberry Bold (T - Get Report) cellphone, which is currently awaiting U.S. government two-way radio handset approvalIf the phone is indeed available by the third quarter, it will arrive just in time to compete with the second-generation Apple (AAPL - Get Report) iPhone, the soon-to-be-ubiquitous Google-backed (GOOG) Gphone, Garmin's (GRMN - Get Report) nuviphone, AT&T/LG's Vu, Sprint/Samsung Instinct (S), Sony/Ericsson's (SNE - Get Report) (ERIC - Get Report) Xperia, or any other upcoming smartphone you can think of.
RIM to Release iPhone Killer This Fall