Research in Motion Ltd, the maker of the popular Blackberry line of business smartphones, will introduce a touchscreen rival to the Apple iPhone in the third quarter, according to a report.

The device, to be called Thunder, will be sold exclusively through Verizon Wireless in the U.S. and Vodafone Plc internationally, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal.

Verizon Wireless is a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc, and Vodafone.

The move into touchscreen phones positions the company's product offerings closer to the mainstream consumer market. Last year the Canadian manufacturer began to offer the Blackberry Pearl, a slim version of its traditionally wide phones.

This week, the company announced a partnership with which included social networking software enhancements for the phone. It also announced an annual conference with software developers for helping them create new consumer and business applications for the Blackberry platform.