BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion is planning to launch a touch-screen version of its popular wireless device in the third quarter of this year, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

The device, known as Thunder, will be sold exclusively in the U.S. through Verizon Wireless and Vodaphone PLC abroad, according to the Journal, which cited sources familiar with the matter.

On Monday, RIM unveiled the BlackBerry Bold — its first major new model of the BlackBerry in more than a year. The device has twice the screen resolution of the current Curve model, and matches the resolution, but not the size, of the screen on Apple's iPhone, which has emerged as a potent competitor in the "smart phone" category.

While analysts viewed the Bold as RIM's answer to the iPhone, it — like previous models — uses a standard QWERTY keypad instead of the touch screen the iPhone has helped popularize.

But its use of third-generation wireless technology and improved Wi-Fi capability set the stage for future phones such as a touch-screen phone, said analyst Nick Agostino of Toronto-based Research Capital Corporation.

A spokesperson for RIM was unavailable for comment.

RIM shares closed $1.60 higher at $140.99 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday.

With files from the Canadian Press