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iPhone could be on the ropes and


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Research in Motion


might be able to deliver a knockout blow.

That just might happen if Verizon gives away its upcoming BlackBerry Storm to customers for free.

Verizon's British cousins at Vodafone have already announced their plans to do that for the BlackBerry Storm. When the first touchscreen Storm goes on sale in Britain on Nov. 18, it will cost nothing for those signing up for a two-year subscription.

In addition Vodafone is throwing in a 600-minute plan -- with all the data you can use -- for a total of $53 (35 U.K. pounds) per month.

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Not that RIM or Verizon have to resort to tricks to sell the new Storm. After seeing a pre-production model last month, I'm convinced the Storm's super sharp, almost magical, touchscreen (you will have to try it yourself to appreciate it) and all the other nifty features should help this phone sell itself.

As for the Apple's premier smartphone, analysts have not been painting a very rosy picture of future iPhone 3G sales. They have gone as far as saying that Apple has been forced to cut back production of the smartphone because of the tough economy.

One industry insider believes that iPhone sales could fall as much as 40% in the near future.

In addition, BlackBerry's other new smartphone, the Bold, is racking up some impressive sales since


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began selling them at its stores on Tuesday.

According to reports, AT&T's consumer chief is telling anyone who will listen at the Web 2.0 conference that buyers are lining up at AT&T stores to buy the Bold.

Despite any problems that RIM has experienced with the Bold in England, consumer response for the phone here has been characterized as "fantastic."

All this represents a huge opportunity for Verizon. I'm not sure whether it can or will match the same sort of pricing by its parent company in Great Britain. Verizon is known for charging more -- not less -- than the competition for everything.

But boy, if it can find a way to do it, Verizon could sign a lot of users to its network, get many to buy extra (and lucrative) cellular services and really put the hurt on Apple and its iPhone.

Gary Krakow is's senior technology correspondent.