Verizon Wireless said it will launch Research In Motion's ( RIMM) new touch-screen BlackBerry later this month with a price equal to that of Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone 3G. Verizon Wireless, the joint venture of Verizon ( VZ) and Vodafone ( VOD), will start selling the new BlackBerry Storm on Nov. 21, the company said Thursday. The Storm features a "clickable" touch screen, a first for RIM's line of BlackBerry handsets. The BlackBerry Storm is priced at $199 after a $50 mail-in rebate, making the price equal to that of the 8-gigabyte version of Apple's iPhone 3G, which is available exclusively on AT&T's ( T) network.
"A year ago, a device like the BlackBerry Storm might've carried a higher price tag," says Craig Moffett, analyst with Sanford Bernstein. "For better or worse, the IPhone has set the benchmark at $199, and that now looks more like a ceiling than a floor." Verizon Wireless expects that the launch of the Storm will help it realize more subscriber growth. In the third quarter, the iPhone 3G helped AT&T realize a net gain of 2 million wireless subscribers, much more than analysts expected to see. "The battle for market share is all about who has the hottest phone," says Moffett. "Right now, the BlackBerry Storm looks to be the likely successor to the iPhone in terms of popularity." Shares of Verizon were lately up 4 cents, or 0.1%, to $29. RIM was adding 15 cents, or 0.4%, to $43.35. Apple, meanwhile, was down 0.8% to $89.40. AT&T was flat.