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Best Buy Taking BlackBerry Storm Pre-Orders

Best Buy stores are now taking pre-orders for the BlackBerry Bold, the first touch-screen BlackBerry smartphone, which pits RIM directly against the Apple iPhone 3G and other touch-screen devices.

According to popular gadget blog the Boy Genius Report, Best Buy is now taking pre-orders on the BlackBerry Storm. And while the launch date and exact pricing for the device have yet to be announced, the pre-order guarantees a shiny new Storm will be waiting for you the minute they hit Best Buy shelves.

The pre-order doesn't offer any firm release date for the Storm, which operates on Verizon Wireless' 3G network, but does suggest that the Storm will be available sometime this month and will be priced between $200 and $300 with a two-year contract. An unsubsidized Storm will likely run around $500, according to details revealed by Verizon Wireless earlier this week.

To pre-order the BlackBerry Storm at Best Buy, the customer pays $50 in-store before the launch date. Because the official pricing for the Storm has not been set, Best Buy is making the $50 deposit 100 percent refundable. Once the deposit is paid, Best Buy will contact the buyer to set up an appointment with a Best Buy mobile employee to come in and pick up the device when it hits stores. During the appointment, the device will be activated and the customer will pay the difference from the $50 deposit. Best Buy also will contact the customer if he or she misses the appointment and the Storm will be held for 48 hours from the appointment time before it's put back into store inventory. If that happens, the $50 will be refunded. It also will be refunded if the buyer decides against buying the device.

The pre-order news comes after Verizon Wireless, which has exclusive rights to the BlackBerry Storm in the U.S., announced some international service plans and rates for the smartphone. It also comes amid speculation on when the device will hit stores and how much it will cost.

The Storm marks BlackBerry's first foray into touch-screen devices and pits it in direct competition with not only the Apple iPhone 3G, but with other touch-screen titans like the recently released Google Android-based T-Mobile G1.

The Best Buy Storm pre-order also comes just days after the BlackBerry Bold 9000 was officially released in AT&T stores after several false starts and continued delays. Both the Bold and the Storm have become two of the most sought-after devices in BlackBerry's 10-year history, but with the Bold and the Storm hitting store shelves so close together, some BlackBerry users are going to wait to purchase the Bold until they get a good look at what the BlackBerry Storm has to offer.

The Storm ties in all of BlackBerry's e-mail, calendaring and messaging capabilities, along with a host of multimedia capabilities like GPS, video, music and more. It also features a 3.2-megapixel camera with zoom, flash and video-recording capabilities. But the main draw of the Storm is its "clickable" touch screen that makes an audible clicking sound and depresses slightly as users type on the touch-sensitive display.

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