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BlackBerry Storm Arrives, Brings Activation Glitches

Mon, 11/24/2008 - 8:15am
Evan Koblentz

Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry Storm sold out quickly on Friday, with widespread reports that even some customers who placed pre-orders were unable to get the latest touchscreen smartphone.

The first batch of 50 phones sold out in the morning.

At a Verizon Wireless store in Rockaway, N.J., an employee said the first batch of 50 phones sold out in the morning, as did a second delivery of 15 phones in the afternoon.

But there was trouble in between. Verizon’s subscription network was inaccessible from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., not just for Storm customers but for all customers, the employee said.  Even the store’s digital waiting list sign and FiOS terminals did not work.

The glitch occurred across northern New Jersey and in New York City, he said. Similar problems were reported in Massachusetts.

Verizon spokesman Howard Waterman said there were “sporadic slowdowns” in the computer systems at some stores. “Those issues were resolved the same day. We saw tremendous customer interest in the Storm. The demand exceeded our expectations,” Waterman said this morning.

So while Research In Motion learned from Apple, did Verizon Wireless learn from AT&T? Or are first-day glitches just the new industry baseline as smartphones become less like telephones and more like computers?

“I would hope not,” industry analyst Jeff Kagan said. “I think this is just a sign, just a signal that things are getting more complicated… What are we going to do when the phones get even smarter? Customers are not going to put up with it anymore.”

Sprint Nextel may be falling behind AT&T and Verizon in market share, but it’s notable that no problems arose during the recent launch of its Instinct phone, he added.

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