Clearly security at RIM isn't the best...
Following on from months of BlackBerry Bold leaks which revealed every single aspect of the impressive handset long before RIM got around to confirming it is news that an image of its latest 'secret' project - the touchscreen 'Thunder' - has also crept out its Swiss Cheese labs.
The horrendously blurry pic above turned up on the site of Canadian (where else?) phone retailer HorizonWirelessOnline and while scepticism would have been our default stance it has since been 'confirmed' to phone gurus BGR that it is indeed a genuine snap showing the housing of what is likely to be the 3G iPhone's biggest rival. Horizon has since been asked to remove the offending snap (which only adds further credibility to it) and posted this notice:
Blackberry 9500 Thunder - Coming Soon
The latest member to the Blackberry family - Blackberry Thunder 9500 - called the i-phone killer! Touch screen, 3G ready and more.....
Specs coming soon
Photos will be back soon - we were asked to remove them, sorry
The site also lists the full model number as the 'BB-9500-Thunder' a code which makes sense given the Bold's BB-9000-Bold reference. In sum then it looks like RIM is coming up with a smartphone which will pay heavy homage to Apple's pride and joy. The key will be whether it can produce an interface to compete with the iPhone's stunning multi-touch system, but having mastered the mobile physical keyboard would anyone bet against RIM pulling off a brilliant virtual one?
When will the Thunder appear? We don't know but it seems sensible to suggest RIM won't want Apple to have the 3G iPhone uncontested for long. Either way, one thing is settled: 2008 is going to be a great year for smartphones.