Blackberry Torch aims to add the pleasure of touch for qwerty lovers

RIM has announced the Blackberry Torch 9800, a vertical slider that combines the traditional Blackberry qwerty with a full touch screen running RIM new OS 6.

Gartner’s Carolina Milanesi, research VP, mobile devices, technology and service provider research, commented on the announcement: “Touch-enabled devices have been growing in popularity since Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007.

“Yet, users who spend a lot of time sending text messages or emailing seem to have preferred devices with a physical qwerty keyboard. RIM jumped on the touch bandwagon with the Storm and Storm 2 with somewhat mixed results as the OS that worked so well with a keypad did not easily adapt to a touch UI.

“The Torch bridges these two use cases to offer a more traditional solution to RIM’s core users with the added bonus of a new OS that improves the touch experience. It will certainly offer a nice upgrade path for Bold users. From demos I have seen, it seems that the new OS is an improvement but not a feature that will set RIM apart from its competitors.

“Overall I see the device as RIM’s chance to limit churn to other devices such as Apple iPhone, and more so, Android. I do not think we will see users moving in the other direction because of the Torch. The vertical slider is also going to appeal more to business users than light messaging users, who have shown a strong preference to side-sliders, especially in the North American market. For AT&T certainly a good to have device, as speculations around the end of the iPhone exclusivity are mounting.”