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RIM Aims to Take iPhone by Storm

UPDATED: The Blackberry Storm 9530 is Research in Motion's (NASDAQ: RIMM) biggest shot yet at gaining market share from Apple's popular iPhone.

The Storm is expected to arrive during the fourth quarter, after the BlackBerry Bold and RIM's newly announced Pearl flip clamshell device, assuming it doesn't run into more delays, one analyst noted.

"There is a hairball in the supply chain but RIM doesn't screw up and they don't put out junk," Michael Finneran, analyst, dBrn Associates, told InternetNews.com. "This is their shot at the iPhone," he said, adding he expects Storm to arrive in November.

A RIM spokesperson would not discuss product release dates and declined comment.

RIM and every other smartphone player are gearing up for what could be one of the most competitive quarters in the mobile device industry.

TechCrunch reported that Motorola is looking to boost its Android OS development team from a current team of 50 developers to 350 in response to the arrival of Google's G1 HTC handset that debuted last week.

Motorola, which previously said it would push 35 new devices out in the fourth quarter, did not respond to inquiries about its Android efforts by press time.

The G1 was built on the Android open platform. The OS was developed under the auspices of the Open Handset Alliance, which has stated the system will be made available under one of the "most progressive, developer-friendly open source licenses" that will provide significant freedom and flexibility for product design. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) acquired Android in 2005.

Online tech bloggers have been cranking up the rumor mill over whether Nokia is bolstering its own Android development efforts as well. The Finnish handset vendor declined comment today on its Android efforts and said it will provide details Thursday when it debuts Tube, its first touch screen smartphone.

"We are very happy with the Symbian platform," a Nokia spokesperson told InternetNews.com.

In late June Nokia announced it was buying up the Symbian system for $410 million to make the software available royalty-free in response to emerging competitors such as Google.

The mobile device market's frenzied platform and handset activity indicates a change in smart phones for the US, according to research firm Canalys.

"The US smart phone market has predominantly been driven by professionally positioned devices, but since the introduction of the iPhone we are seeing more smart phones specifically targeted at the consumer segment," Peter Cunningham, Canalys analyst, told InternetNews.com, noting Palm's latest Centro device, Google's G1 and RIM's Pearl.

"From a vendor point of view, we expect to see RIM continue to be clear the market leader, but also expect significant volumes from Apple," said Cunningham.

Canalys estimates there are currently 40 different smart phone models available in the US.

During its recent earnings call, Palm indicated it plans to debut its newest proprietary platform by year's end and announced the US availability of its latest Treo smartphone, the Pro, late last week.

"I don't know if I would say Palm is even in the [smartphone] game at this point," said Finneran, noting the smartphone pioneer has fallen in terms of device design and product deployment.

The analyst added that, in comparison, Nokia, and HTC shouldn't be overlooked in light of the battle brewing between RIM and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).

"Keep in mind that Symbian has more mobile applications than any of the other mobile platform efforts put together and HTC, as a handset maker, is coming out of the closet at this point," said Finneran.

"Google and its G1 [are] the biggest disruptive force in the cell phone industry and [they are] stirring up the waters."