BlackBerry Torch has some asking 'who needs an iPhone?'

BlackBerry Torch, the newest smartphone from RIM, was introduced in New York City this morning. Pundits are predicting that the BlackBerry Torch could take a bite out of the Apple iPhone. We're not so sure.

BlackBerry Torch. The Torch, which was unveiled today in New York, is a next-gen smartphone. But it shouldn't take much away from the Apple iPhone 4.

BlackBerry Torch was unveiled at a much-ballyhooed press conference in New York City this morning, and plenty of bloggers are already frothing at the mouth. Fair enough: the newest RIM smartphone sports some sharp curves, a touchscreen and a QWERTY pad, and comes equipped with BlackBerry 6, an updated operating system that RIM is calling "fresh, approachable and engaging."

But is the BlackBerry Torch really a challenge to the iPhone 4? We have our doubts. For one, Apple and BlackBerry have always occupied different corners of the smartphone market. Except for the BlackBerry Storm – a poorly-branded and poorly-executed smartphone that didn't ever really threaten the iPhone – RIM has generally succeeded by going after business professionals, who use their BlackBerries mostly as email and calendar machines.

The iPhone, on the other hand, has always been less of a phone and more of an accessory. (Witness the latest line of iPhone 4 advertisements, depicting the iPhone 4 as a next-generation communication tool for friends, lovers, and family members.) People use their iPhone 4 handsets for email, sure, but they also want music, games, applications, and maps.

The BlackBerry Torch edges a little further into that market. The handset arrives with a bunch of pre-loaded apps, and the touch screen is very much Apple like, with a pinch to zoom functionality. Still, we're guessing the majority of consumers will use the Torch just like they use their other BlackBerry phones – as a pocket-sized office organizer. But don't take our word for it.

Over at PC Mag, Lance Ulanoff warns against seeing the Torch as an iPhone killer. "Unlike the ill-conceived BlackBerry Storm, there is no ridiculous gimmick in the BlackBerry Torch. Instead, it's the product of a lot of smart, clear-headed thinking about what existing BlackBerry users – like me – want," Ulanoff writes.

The BlackBerry Torch will retail for $199 with a two-year contract; the phone is exclusive to AT&T.


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