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BlackBerry Storm Has Sunny Future

The rumors have been flying for months: In addition to its just-released BlackBerry Bold, Research in Motion (RIMM) has been working on a touch-screen phone that would take the ubiquitous BlackBerry to its next step.

And an early look at the new device has it looking like a major contender to be the next Apple (AAPL) iPhone-killer on the market.

Photo Gallery: The Blackberry Storm Is Here

For now, the company's Bold is being sold in a handful of countries, but it still isn't available for sale in the U.S. I wonder what partner AT&T (T), which has delayed its release, is waiting for.

In the meantime, Verizon (VZ) is wasting no time introducing its amazing new BlackBerry -- the Storm.

I was able to see, touch and play for a short time with a pre-production Storm last week at a private meeting with Verizon and RIM officials. What I saw was pretty amazing.

First of all, there's the high-resolution screen. While this is the first touch-screen BlackBerry, it's a touch-screen unlike any other you've tried. When you press a button, character or command on the screen, it actually feels like you are pressing a button.

I know some readers are going to write and say that many other smartphones have a "haptic" response -- a little vibration when you touch the screen. But the Storm feels different, like you're actually pressing a hardware button. RIM President and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis called the screen "intuitive" and told me that it's the first time that two separate screen technologies create this effect. I have to tell you -- it's really amazing.

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