Frankly we didn't expect to see much gaming spirit in the BlackBerry Storm 9500 and as it turned out we were right. Our unit only came with two preinstalled games.
The first was a version of the all too popular Bricks game, adapted for touch control. While you might need some time getting used to operating your pad this way, once you do so it is hardly too different from the other similar titles we have tried.
The other game is the Word Mole, where you have to compose words with the letters given on the board. Various bonuses and bonus levels are also at hand.
BlackBerry Storm 9500 is equipped with a built-in GPS receiver with A-GPS support. For navigation you get BlackBerry Maps, which supposedly come preinstalled (not on our unit though). Our American friends can also enjoy the Verizon Navigator, which is quite more functional and you can also get the free Google Maps if data traffic doesn't bother you.
BlackBerry Maps provides basic map functionality plus voice-guided navigation. You can enter addresses straight from your phonebook and you can also save your favorite spots so you don't have to type them every time.
The BlackBerry Maps also allow you to send your location to anyone via email or SMS.
At this point we're expected to pass the final verdict and we are afraid it is not the one we would have liked it to be. The BlackBerry Storm isn't really likely to achieve that sweeping convergence success. Quite unfortunately for the unique touchscreen, the rest of the device's features spell doom for the whole TouchBerry project.
The BlackBerry Storm fails to outgrow the company tradition and even if the exterior screams multimedia, the conservative business nature of BlackBerry shines through. It's almost like the guys at RIM are saying new members aren't welcome to the club, which we thought was the very idea of the Storm. And the existing members are almost sure to go for the Bold instead so the Storm pretty much finds itself in the middle of nowhere.
The amount of third party applications available can also be decisive for the Storm's ambitions. A device that gets upgraded is much more valuable than the what-you-see-is-what-you-get variety. While there certainly are some 3rd party applications that you can get for your Storm right now, their number is generally less than that of competing smartphones or even than those for other BlackBerries. We really hope that the upcoming BlackBerry App World would change things for the better.
Generally the Storm feels a stranger within its own family without being fit enough to survive the fierce competition outside of it. Obviously no company can afford to stay out of the touchscreen race and RIM are well aware of that. They even took the effort to differentiate their product with the unique SurePress system. The thing however is that the Storm remains a peculiar touch-enabled BlackBerry - with all the strengths this entails - but fails to stand up to the touchscreen standard-setters.