How Will We Know if BlackBerry is Successful?

BlackBerry Success
By Chris Umiastowski on 25 Feb 2012 04:01 pm
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So here we are! The Playbook 2.0 launch has finally happened, and we've had some time to download it, play around, and think about the future of what's in store for CrackBerry Nation.

You'd think this big software launch would release all the tension we've experienced waiting for it, right? Nope. I think it just builds more anticipation for BlackBerry 10 because we want these awesome capabilities on our phones now.

Despite the big #Twosday (Twitter hashtag for the 2.0 update) now being over and done with, the reality is that RIM sells way more handsets than tablets. The whole tablet business could cease to exist tomorrow and it wouldn't really move the needle on the company's financial results.

All this really means is that we need to see RIM continue as a success story in the mobile phone market. And this raises a big question: How will we know if RIM is successful or not?

Kevin has been wanting to write an editorial on this topic for a long time now. But in addition to being the #1 BlackBerry Fanboy he's the Chief Media Officer of Mobile Nations, and often doesn't end up with enough time to write everything that comes to mind (and he's currently tackling PlayBook OS 2.0 and P'9981 reviews). So he asked me to take a crack at it. I mean, if we're going to have to read all these trashy pieces that treat RIM like a washed up company, maybe we should go back to basics and think about what constitutes success.

As a starting point, it's pretty obvious that the media and investment community is down on RIM. According to almost any story you read, BlackBerry has been losing ground in the market.

This argument is true, but the strength of the argument really depends on what you measure. Are we looking at the smart phone market, or are we looking at the overall mobile phone market?

A couple of years ago (maybe more?), when I was still working as an analyst on Bay Street, I would have conversations with clients about how we should stop talking about the growth of smartphones. Instead, we should talk about the death of dumb phones.

I also remember listening to Kevin on one of the CrackBerry podcasts a while back. He made a very good point about smartphone customers; Many of them are just buying a smartphone because it's subsidized (by the carrier) down to almost nothing and the sales guy is recommending it.

These are people who would have probably been happy with a feature phone if that's what was recommended. But there are fewer and fewer feature phones on the shelves in developed countries.

Remember when the TV market moved from cathode ray tubes (CRT) to plasma and LCD flat panels? Initially they cost more. A lot more. But eventually you walked into Best Buy and there were no CRT screens to be found. Flat panel became the only option, and the prices were fantastic.

Where are we in the mobile phone market today? In developed markets it's as if the Best Buy store still has some CRT models, but they're not prominently placed, and no sales guy would bother going near them.

So we have to stop thinking of the market as a smartphone market. It's still a mobile phone market. And the customers are still the same. They can be carved up into the 4 segments that make up the technology adoption life cycle. You have the leaders, the early majority, the late majority, and finally the laggards.

With that said, let's take a look at global market share for the various phone manufacturers out there. Here's the most recent data from Gartner Inc, an industry analysis firm:

Mobile Handset Sales

Notice that this report covers Q4 of 2011 all the way back to Q3 2010. That's six quarters of data during a period of massive growth for Android and iOS. It also marks a period of time over which RIM really didn't launch anything too super impressive. Yeah, BB7 devices hit the market, but we all know how that has gone. Not much marketing, and a source of financial disappointment so far.

Now let's look at Android. Eric Schmidt told the world that Google was seeing 350,000 activations per day back at MWC in February 2011. Then Andy Rubin tweeted about Google reaching 550,000 per day in June, and then 700,000 per day in December.

Safe to say that Android is on fire, right? But what does it say about volume growth for the makers of all these Android phones?

Let's look at the Gartner numbers. The prominent Android supporters on that list include Samsung, ZTE, LG, Huawei, HTC and Motorola (Alcatel data is incomplete, so therefore excluded). Adding up their collective market share in Q4 gives us 34.3%. How about six quarters earlier, when Android was obviously much smaller? A slightly lower 30.7% share.

What this means: The top 6 Android supporters have collectively gained 360 basis points (3.6%) of market share in the global mobile phone market. That isn't a lot, but it's safe to say that the shift to Android probably caused this shift.

What else has shifted? Well, Nokia took a beating. They lost 4.8% market share over the same time period. Nokia has lost almost 5% of global share during this same time period. Given the shift away from feature phones (including Symbian) and Nokia's lack of traction (so far) in smartphones, this comes as no surprise).

And RIM? They've basically treaded water. They lost 0.2% share over six quarters. Not exactly an exciting move.

The big point I want to drive home is this: Android is growing massively at the expense of legacy feature phones and older proprietary operating systems created by these same Android supporters (and Nokia's Symbian).

As much as we all talk about the leading smartphone platforms, when you look at vendors it's still the same group of hardware manufacturers fighting over volume. Samsung is the biggest winner, while LG seems to be the biggest loser during this transition.

Based purely on the number of developers supporting Android, it sure looks like Google's OS will ultimately "win" if you determine the winner based on how many units are shipped.

But is it really changing the vendor landscape that much? No, it isn't. And if Android is #1 does that make RIM a loser?

Let's ask this question another way. Is Apple a loser in the PC market because they only have 6% share? I don't think so.

Mobile computing is the next big wave, and it has only just begun. Each vendor must adopt a platform. Even if Google's Android is the dominant platform, RIM, Microsoft and Apple all have plenty of room to make plenty of money if they execute well.

RIM is sitting at 3% share and is one of the few leading mobile phone manufacturers who is a pure play on the smartphone transition. If they can successfully launch BlackBerry 10 this year and move fully into the mobile computing era, backed by QNX, there is no reason they shouldn't be able to drive above 5% global share.

Just think about how much bleeding there could still be at Nokia, who's volume is almost entirely Symbian-based.

So what do I think would mark a successful outcome for RIM? I think they've got a shot at being the #4 ranked mobile phone company in the world behind Nokia, Samsung and Apple (and not necessarily in that order).

Another aspect to this story is carrier support. It doesn't take a genius to realize that carriers are taking some pain in this smartphone transition. Apple has convinced them all to subsidize the heck out of the iPhone, and the lifecycle of Android devices is insanely short. None of this is good for carriers.

RIM, on the other hand, has been very carrier friendly since the beginning. I think they've been far too carrier friendly, and it's hurt them. But right now carriers need friends. And RIM's still there ready to hold hands.

Man, am I ever looking forward to BlackBerry 10.

80 comments

SixYearBlackberryUser

In response to being carrier friendly...The reason why carriers are not friendly with Blackberry is because of BBM. Carriers make their profits on texting plans and when Blackberry offers "free" texting between Blackberry phones the carriers lose out. This is why the carriers do not promote Blackberry. Look at the Verizon website for example or while on hold with Verizon you hear ads for the iphone and the Blackberry phones are usually listed last on the website.

Mungoflea89

I don't agree. Maybe some time ago but not today. iPhones got iMessage, and others have Kik, WhatsApp, ... Texting is not as relevant as it used to be. I don't think that's the reason why they don't promote them as they did.

BlackberryIsAwesome

^^ "Texting is not relevant as it used to be" Huh? Most people spend more time texting than actually on the phone talking. I totally agree with the carriers backing away from promoting the "free" BBM. Once BBM started becoming popular and phone companies realized they make NOTHING off BBM they stopped promoting blackberry. A few years ago as more and more people moved from talking to texting, phone companies started increasing their texting plans.

dannyd86

In Canada there isn't even a plan available that gives you pay per text. Every company every plan is unlimited text.

JackKennedy

It makes more sense to say the main reason carrier doesn't like BB is because they're trying to sell a more expensive plan without earning more profit for themselves. BIS right now isn't providing much extra for an ordinary consumer comparing to joining an ordinary data plan with another handset, yet they cost more. Why do the carriers have to sell a more expensive plan with more effort if they themselves don't earn anything much extra; what about the consumers, why do we need to pay extra for something that's included in other platforms and they even do better in many areas?

For RIM to even stand a chance, they have to make sure that there's some sort of useful exclusive features that appeals to consumers. The exclusive features also either need to be impossible to copy by competitors or needs to constantly reinvented into something new. This, at least, gives incentives to carriers to sell it as a different service.

RIM's mindset is wrong, playing catchup will not get you anywhere when you have a product that is inherently more expensive. You do need to turn it into a different product to justify for a more costly plan.

shebmiller

False. Unlimited txting isn't a given.

BlackberryIsAwesome

In the US Verizon has pay per text, 1000 texts for $10 or unlimited for $20. AT&T currently has pay per text and unlimited plans. They had 1000 texts for $10 up until recently. Keep in mind BBM can be used international. There are more charges to text international. BBM is FREE!

Also lets not forget about the PlayBook and the very cool feature of Bridge. To use your PlayBook ANYWHERE while paired with your phone using your unlimited data plan was genius. Do you think the carriers were happy about this?? NOPE. What did AT&T do? We all know what they did. To use other tablets you have to tether which you must PAY for. With the PlayBook it's FREE! Does this make the carriers happy? Nope. Are the carriers going to bend over backwards and promote Blackberry? Probably not. If Blackberry wants to establish a relationship with the big carriers that basically "sell" their products they must be a bit more user friendly with them. Sucks for us who love the cool free features, but in the long run for Blackberry to remain a player they can only hope the other phone manufactures decide to offer the same features.

Apelles123

That's true with exorbitant charges for overages, most consumers have opted for unlimited plans. With the consumer victory over one man winning over $800 us against ATT&T in New York City over data capping, phone companies will be much more cautious. If everyone did this to a carrier in one city and won,the results could be catastrophic. Everyone seems to be focused on the handset makers and not the carriers. The iPhone maybe a consumer success but it's openly despised by Sprint and Verizon,given the subsidies they are forced to pay by supporting these phones. This is where BlackBerry could usurp the market. In order to do so it has to appeal to consumers. BlackBerry Bridge was ahead of it's time, lt's the only phone and tablet I've seen that function in tandem. It's flaw was that the PlayBook's capacities diminished without the BlackBerry. It's absurd and redundant that people are taking out one plan for a iPad and another for an iPhone. Most tablets that have been offered by carriers are abysmal and expensive -top dollar for mediocre hardware. With all this said a BlackBerry phone and PlayBook on one plan,if handled correctly could really succeed. I just think it needs to have a full and complete app market and be offered at a reasonable price so that no fire sale is necessary. Maybe some exclusive apps or a very large cloud service, total, privacy no ads to make it really compelling .Something that no one else can offer

extisis

good analysis... but that's not the reason

westex#WP

I find it interesting that Blackberry is assumed to be "carrier friendly". Carriers want phones that they can sell back end stuff to, such as batteries and chargers, and also phones that use up a lot of data (for those not on the unlimited data plans). RIM's phones are frugal on batteries and use very little data.
Could it be that BB is actually not as attracative to carriers as we previously believed??

ram4life

Tru, but then again its 2012, txting is basically with every cellphone plan out there. Plus they tend to drive ppl towards the data plans; where theres more $$$ to be made

EDIT: my bad, i wanted to post a reply to the topic above

diegonei

His articles are well written and based on facts. He is one hell of a great addition to the CrackTeam!

BB10FTW

Great article to really put the global market share in perspective.
Thanks Chris for this and I believe Kevin was smart to let you take a crack at it.
Job well done

CairnsRock

I agree. Good work Chris on the mkt share perspective. I'm presuming that is in units. I would love to see the same chart from a revenue and profit perspective.
Also, who gets what from the carrier subsciptions by vendor.

Bold_until_Hybrid_Comes

We need to compare either operating systems or hardware units sold. Not both. I.e not blackberry vs android. Unless we want to do the software comparison and not hardware. Curve style bb10 devices are going to explode in sales in india, china etc when someone wants their first smart phone. These people don't get subsidised phone prices and cannot afford more expensive full touch devices from other companies which have all but abandoned keyboards. Let alone apple. RIM will be fine. Just be like mercedes-benz. First to market and continue offering large range of products. For example 25,000$ a-class to 600,000 SLR... (Curve to bold). Even current technology bb7 curves at dirt cheap prices 3 years from now will sell. Just like the old style beetle was still selling in mexico until about ten years ago...

inocent3

I Think that RIM will turn things around, I've taken the other guys phones for a spin and kept coming back. At this point my next phone will be a BlackBerry 10 device.

I think marketing, marketing,marketing is something that would help a lot. I have to say when 2.0 dropped the only thing I heard was 1 email from RIM, everything else was from Crackberry.

amrovi2014

I agree, my next device will be a BB. I will switch from Android to BB and the switch is due to PB OS 2. I like BB a lot. Unfortunately my Sprint plan won't allow an upgrade for another, but I have my BB PB which is awesome.

Pootermobile

I really enjoy Chris' posts very informative and precise. I'm so looking forward to BlackBerry 10 as well! BlackBerry 4 Life!

berrybait

BlackBerry 10 will be an awesome device. RIM needs to have equally awesome marketing to help drive consumers to try BlackBerry again. No more #bebold campaigns that aren't bold.

http://www.barefootcreative.com/blog/?p=413

Bold_until_Hybrid_Comes

Yea...if they need tools not toys you shouldn't show two dudes tweeting at some rave. A toy can do that. The action not distraction one is better.

eve6er69

so all of these people saying rim is a sinking ship dont realize they lost only .02 market share. thats not nearly as bad as i would have imagined from what bloggers have written about.

another thing to remember is rim owns everything and doesnt pay any other company for screens batteries etc. they are all self sufficient and i dont think people take that into consideration.

Bold_until_Hybrid_Comes

Love blackberry too...but we don't have a battery factory here in waterloo. Mine says made in china like every phones does

123berryaddicted

When all the talk of RIMs loss of market share, they are talking about the USA market share, which has dropped whole lot more than 0.2% - just saying.

I love blackberry! Long live RIM!!!

bwestgat

Good perspective. I hope they can get bb10 out soon. The sooner they do the better off they will be competing against other smart phones. Do it fast but make sure you don't miss key functionalities. Go RIM.

koool1

If RIM can pull off a great BB10 phone it still does not ensure anything. Marketing and distribution are key and RIM has failed miserably in this department. The Playbook is a perfect example of a product many have never heard of.

RIM will never be number 1 again in smartphones but given it's size I doubt it could have ever held number one anyway. If it can be a #4 that's just fine, even a #5. Apple fans can stand in line for their iCrap every 6 months - whatever. I just want a solid competitive Blackberry and a viable RIM for the long run.

123berryaddicted

They stand in line once a year, not every six months.... Once a year for each product (iPhone and iPad), so I suppose every six months is fair - lol

cookie20

I think achieving 4th place would mark a successful transfer to BB10. All they need to show is they have potential for growth and a base from which they can only grown from and no longer loose. Being number 1 means you are under extensive pressure to remain there. Sure, aim for it, but it's not the be all and end all to get there.

rjedge54

Thanks Chris. A very informative post that puts a far more balanced perspective on things. Though RIM has lost market share it is actually barely a blip on the radar. To take the many "pundits" assertions even halfway would have one presuming that RIM was on their last legs.

j8298c

RIM still has a lot to offer it just all depends on how they market BB10 and also if they gain the favor of more developers to publish worthy apps for them i personally am looking forward to what BB10 has to offer when it does arrive but timing is everything and if you expect to launch after an iPhone 5 well your pretty much shooting yourself in the foot, hopefully this does turn around for rim i would love to see my stocks shoot up the roof

AfroZepher

A very fair analysis of the situation . . .I am also looking forward to BB10 . . .maybe the slow and steady can win the race.

abwan11

Samsung makes a point of not disclosing their phones sales numbers so I don't know where thy got those numbers and as far as Apple last quarter iphone numbers of 37 million translates to 411,000 a day 17,000 units an hour. 285 Iphones a minute sold. Forget about the sales of the units because they have maximum exposure in retail and thousands of retailers to pull this off. But what about manufacturing? Is it possible to manufacture 285 Iphones a minute? A while back they had a issue at a plant that produced iphone in china and it was reported that the plant produced 4000 a day. That's a 100 times less then what is being produced today. Something is wrong with that number. I don't follow tech numbers but that number seems exceedingly high and out of line.

123berryaddicted

I would imagine they have quite a bead start manufacturing product before it is actually released, perhaps this explains some of it. Also more than one production facility, very probable.

abwan11

From what I read in steve jobs bio, Tim cook was brought into Apple from compaq and changed their inventory system from 3 month to 3 weeks worth of inventory. So they would have to have millions of new release phones in the pipeline while running older models at the same time and would have had to have anticipated almost double the demand (year over year) weeks before the launch and not missed a beat in order to fill that many orders. Oh and do it all in 90 days

I worked at a tobacco plant that employed hundreds of people with fully automated machines running 24 hours a day. At the height of it (running full tilt) the plant was able to produce 1 million packs of cigarettes a day. Now consider the machines did all the work from beginning to end and human hands never touched the product. The cigarettes were moving through the machines quicker then your eye could follow them.

Again I'm no expert in this field but I know you couldn't throw 400,000 Iphones out a window in a 24 hour period even if 10,000 people were helping you do it.

The new york times wrote an article yesterday about Apple confronting the law of limits. The growth is beginning to appear almost impossible when measured against anything else.

When rim starts to cook there books I guess they'll be able to keep up and be considered successful.

Puz_zled

From what I understand Apple was able to extract guarantees of billions of $ from each of the American carriers for example on the order of 15 billion over 5 years which is what Sprint or T Mobile (I'm not sure which)had to agree to pay Apple in order for the right to sell the iPhone. This gives them Great incentive to push them at large subsidies even though they are MASSIVE data hogs on carriers networks. In addition carriers are reluctant to charge enough to cover the cost of providing the data they actually use. So right now carriers are bent over a barrel and are taking it from Apple because of the guarantees they signed. Only Apple is making money. They are sucking all of the air out of the tech space.

zensen

The difference between comparing apple's global market share of 6% compared to RIMs market share in smartphones is that apples profits have soared in other areas, while RIM while have seen marginal growth in their key area. The landscape in which they compete has become increasingly competitive! RIMs perecentage of the market has grown smaller unlike apple's pc share which has continued to grow (with a side of healthy profits to show for it). People expected market leaders like RIM to continue upwards and instead have faltered.

I'm looking forward to the new OS.
Sink or swim for RIM and their blackberry devices with their proprietary OS eco system. If they can't pull this off and developers don't accept it as another stream of revenue then they'll have to rethink where they want to be in 10 years...

G-bone

Always appreciate the thoughtful analytics, Chris.
I feel that the current "let's kick RIM while they are vulnerable ", has been started by those who would wish to devalue a valuable company for their own gain. The hating has since taken on a life of its own. There is also the "my big brother says, therefore so do I ", factor.
Some of the things that have been said by otherwise intelligent people about RIM are preposterous, at best. I have read articles in the media wherein the author has obviously not done the requisite research, and is repeating popular,uninformed myths and passing them off as fact.
Unconscionable, at best.
This doesn't tell the whole story, but it's worth reading -http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/careers/careers-leader...

eb506z

great article, from a the standpoint of a sales consultant I've seen trends come and go with different customers&their devices. BlackBerry has a reputation for being consistent with most of their products. Build quality, software, fast responding email clients etc. It takes a little bit of hands instruction from the consultant to adequately introduce the concept of a blackberry to a prospect, but once prospects fully engage with the device and acknowledge its capabilities..they know what they have in their hands. I've seen many things in my days of working with cellphones,& I believe good things are come for BlackBerry.

Blackberry_boffin

It's so refreshing to read a well researched and objective article like this.
Much appreciated.

El Cid

Very good post Chris. In the U.S. market RIM should be friendlier with the two of the four major carriers that need such friendship the most, that is the smallest of the four, Sprint and T-Mobile, work out whatever deals would be mutually beneficial and back such deals with aggressive consumer-focused marketing campaigns that highlight the benefits of owning/using a BlackBerry over the competition's products.

Skeevecr

While I think they will complete their transition from bbos to qnx successfully, I think 4th place might be beyond them unless nokia completely fails with their choice of windows phone because beyond the better known names, upcoming companies like ZTE should not be overlooked due to their ability to deliver products to the market quickly which is crucial for anyone without the yearly releases of Apple.

Rim will most likely be fighting it out for 5th with the likes of HTC, Motorola etc. so little change from now other than the overall market will have continued to grow and the press for Rim will be less unrelentingly negative.

Superfly_FR

Thanks for this post. Having such figures in mind is certainly something many so called analysts should care about.

peterallcdn

If RIM is expected to grow significantly in the future, they'll have to produce more than just phones and tablets. They need to diversify and build a non-phone centric ecosystem... a one trick pony can't last forever. Once BB10 launches, there had better be a nice line-up of non-phone non-tablet products on the horizon... including software ones. Why, if BlackBerry is supposed to be the king of email, am I still using Gmail? BlackBerry should have had a competitive service years ago. Instead of just connecting us to 3rd party services, BlackBerry needs to be both the connection AND the service!

TomCanuck

I never really thought about that. Why aren't we all using our blackberry email addresses more? We all already have access to one, but RIM has restricted it to use on the phones (can't even set it up on PlayBook 2.0). I'd like to see RIM build up there email service come to think of it.

notinbeta

Hands down, a truly excellent editorial, awesome job.

jimbob4321

well written and articulated .. there is definitely space for RIM in the market. In my opinion, they have the best handset out there, hands down. Lets hope that they survive this transition.

MaxPayne79

is it just me or does the statue of liberty look like kevin with long hair? lol

theRock1975

I absolutely love reading your articles. +10000000. These are my predictions for rim this year:
Word of mouth of playbook builds up and is very positive, even in US.
Blackberry will push NFC this spring.
We'll be buying our Timmie's with our BB7 phones!
Blackberry 10 will be showcased in May with an August/September launch date.
Cascades UI will be in, all the Playbook goodness and more will be in, + a version of BBM that will get anybody who ever left Blackberry to come back.
Goldman Sachs will upgrade twice, Hold to buy, then Buy to Strong buy after BB10 launch
All others will follow because of herd mentality.
Shorts will have to buy RIM in the $30's hahahahaha, driving the price to $40
BB10 Curves will sell extremely well outside of US because of RIM's efforts to dominate Latin America, Indian and Middle East.
Apple will sue RIM for some reason. Apple will still not have flash. Lots of IPads returning to China for recycling.
RIM shareholders who bought today will retire early.

:)

guerllamo7

I love your forecast.

BB10 should be awesome. I believe the delay was to leapfrog themselves. They were ready but realized with a few more months they could actually launch a vastly superior product.

Getting it right is more important than getting it out.

Currently, I'm very happy with my Bold 9930. Someone in the media said that people with BlackBerry's were ashamed of showing them to people. What a turkey! I love my Bold and I show it to anyone that will listen.

I've gotten quite a few people to switch to BlackBerry and what I've learned is that BlackBerry is not as easy to use out of the box but once you set it up the way you want it is just awesome.
I actually spend 30 minutes or more with friends that get it so we can get their BB's humming nicely. I've even added each one of them to BBM and I broadcast a weekly BlackBerry tip. Also, I've enjoyed signing them all up for BBM Music. That is just awesome.

BB Traffic - Now with free voice navigation
BB Travel - Awesome updates for travel schedule
BB Protect - Free and secure phone locator/message/wipe
BB Music - Free for four months and awesome
Docs to go - Now free for BlackBerry owners
BBM - still the best
BB messages and e-mail - still the best
BB Security - still the best

BlackBerry rocks!

sid_c

Hi Chris,
Its a great article, just that I want to add some Indian spice to it.

I am an a 23 year old engineer (just to get the demographics clear), and an absolute BB fanboy since I first bought a 8900.

I am not much into numbers, but what I do see is a massive number of blackberries in India. I had a class of 45 students in college, (not counting the other friends) and 43 of us are on BBM (albeit most of them on curves but BB nevertheless). I went to a pitbull concert in Mumbai, and the number of the trademark BB Leds flashing red was overwhelming. My team at work consists of 11 people , and we've got 3x9900s, 6x9780s, 2xCurves and 3 playbooks between us. Yea, my manager has an iPhone 4, but guess what - he also has a curve. 9 out of 10 people I know who own an iPhone (3g onwards), somehow feel the need to carry a BB.

Sometime, when I have time, (or if someone else wants numbers), they can do a research - goto a coffee shop/pub/disc in a metro city in india (else all you'd find is 3 gen old Nokias), and just count ther number of BBs and the number of any other manufacturer. Hell, my brother owns a Sammy S2, and still clings onto his 8900. The build quality of blackberries is Exceptional, it just goes on and on. My managers have (throughout the company) 7xxx series, running os 4.x. Count those too please. Don't just count how many BBs RIMs sell in an year, count how many are active. And compare it to the other handsets/oses that are active today. A clearer picture will emerge.

-Sid

Skeevecr

You see similar situations all over the world other than in the states, but unfortunately for Rim, all the analysts are based there and they just look at the local situation for blackberry.

One thing about your story does indicate a problem that Rim has to fight to overcome though, they don't have the same success in converting older blackberry users over to the latest devices as readily as Apple and that in turn hurts them when it comes to feature comparisons because there is simply no way a device running os4.x can compete with a modern smartphone so the wrong perception that blackberry is outdated is able to grow because people aren't comparing like with like.

ram4life

Bravo! Bravo! Finally an article that says what ive had in mind for so long!!!

Good job sir!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBNxGZP49ls

the_sleuth

Chris, your best article yet. Great analysis; however don't underestimate Nokia / Microsoft & Window 8. Things are going to heat up in 2013-14

scottae316

One point that is overlooked, RIM is losing market share in North America and mostly in the US. Yet in developing markets RIM is on fire. Can a company be successful and not be big in the US, ask Nokia.

Skeevecr

The obvious question is what Nokia would you ask, for a great many years the answer was yes they could be successful, while that isn't really the case now.

Realistically, Rim will want bb10 devices to stem the tide in the states even if it is for no other reason than to stop giving ammunition to analysts that only look at the american rather than global market when it comes to judging rim's stock.

Siiid

Great article hopefully bb10 will have an ecosystem that attracts consumers.

Petroucho

So all they lost is .4%, right?
Well, you better check gs.statcounter.com
RIMs present market share in the US is only 4.5% down from more than 30%.
Check all other metrics and start looking for a new job

apasehculun

The table is for international market. AFAIK, US is part of the world, not the other way around. Outside of US, eg, Asia, BB is still big. Especially in countries where phones are not subsidized. Eg, in Indonesia, BB cost $200-$500. While iPhone is $800+. Which one you will pick? BB + iPod Touch for me.

mavricxx

First of all GREAT article! Second, I think the MAIN reason RIM is struggling right now is because of the apps. The PlayBook rocks but the app store is sad. None of the hard hitting apps are there. Just look at sorry ass Netflix tweet about not supporting any BlackBerry devices. The other reason they are hurting is because although their phone hardware has improved drastically, it still needs work. Just look at Android, they are prepping to debut Quad-Core devices with 2 gigs of RAM. This is why every one of us BlackBerry fans are excited about BB10 and can't wait for it to be introduced, although as I type this from my beloved PlayBook with OS2.0, QNX still needs work not to mention AGAIN...apps.

Skeevecr

They definitely need to throw money to get the app developers they deem crucial to the success of the devices.

As far as specs, I don't think they need to get too hung up on numbers, they just have to make sure they are good enough on the various specs that count in the same way that apple tend to be with the iphone rather than trying to compete in the spec arms race that makes up the highest end of the android market.

Incidentally, if the first bb10 phone comes out running a newer version of the omap chipset in the playbook or perhaps the latest snapdragon from qualcomm would you consider those a failure since they weren't quad-core, despite the latter basically smoking the currently available quadcores in tests?

scook94

That table is complete BS. Have Stamford never heard of Sony Ericsson?

Perjade

How will we know When BB is successful. Of cource when the US market is buying BlackBerry phones. Everybody in the world is following US. These markets in Indonesia and Africa are very unsure. Can change at any moment.

Skeevecr

What makes you think the US market is inherently more sure than those other markets, it can just as easily change as indeed it has several times in the last few years.

Perjade

How will we know When BB is successful. Of cource when the US market is buying BlackBerry phones. Everybody in the world is following US. These markets in Indonesia and Africa are very unsure. Can change at any moment.

Mamaluka

That these devices we hold in our hands today, will be the sony walkman's of the 21st century. Human condition has already dictated the concept. We need a PC and a phone that we can hold in our hands. The first to manufacture such a device will no doubt lead the industry...but as we all know, its not who invents it, its who perfects it. Wonder who that will be? It will surely be exciting race to watch!
Maybe we will all laugh at how we used to pay 700 dollars for a device that couldn't even render flash and now we hold in our hands a fully funcional PC/Phone for 80 bucks that will start our cars, heat our homes, pay our taxes, hail a cab, call mom, translate aloud any language spoken to it immediately...etc etc etc. If you can think it, it can be done.

f0xG3

I'm pretty sure that RIM is quite too big to simply fall down. However they might need to act fast or they will be. We got a new CEO and a new platform. I think puts them at square one and therefore, the underdogs...or the revolutionaries.

It's ironic that we are being Apple as to IBM and Microsoft today... Only this time, Apple has became the Big Brother.

lnichols

The Apple PC comparison @ 6% is spot on. However RIM is going to have to market BB10 phones hard and come out swinging at both Apple and Android's issues, and basically poke fun at themselves too as the current crop of devices is viewed as old tech. Also I think it is time for some BB stores in the US when BB10 is released. Put them in San Fran, NYC, Tyson's Corner and one in DC and maybe Crystal City mall (near Pentagon), and other major markets. Carriers aren't pushing the devices anymore so RIM needs to do it. You should be able to go into these stores and see how to remote control Playbook or BlackberryTV (yes it needs to come out with BB10 devices to round out the ecosystem and throw in keyboard to turn your TV into a PC) from BB10 device and how a playbook can replace a lot of things. Also we need a full dock for the Playbook that charges, has hdmi and usb out the back. RIM needs the complete package with BB10.

Bolderholder

The article does explain the vantage point from the platform and manufacturer's perspective well, but if you look at how consumers are chosing their devices at different global sectors, their decisions are indicative of their cultural priorities. North American consumers are...well for the lack of better description (which is not meant to offend anyone - so my apologies in advance) are very need info "now", have to have the coolest, latest, best, must have, keep up with the Jone's, it's so 2000 and late, it's all gott be about me, I want all for less, gotta make me look good, more is better than fewer, go big or go home type of consumers. (Whew!).

Is that wrong to be all that above? Probably not but that's what makes North America as progessive as it is. It may seem selfish but its consumers acting like consumers. As media rich as we are in North America, we naturally want more as our access and ability grows. That's not a fault, but it is culturally natural in NA.
When our income increases in life, do we not all consume more by way of housing, assets and other services?

Consumer demands for apps and platforms that meet the criteria above will thrive. Android grew so fast because they offered such a wide variety that appealed to the masses without costing a fortune.

RIM is so precise on what they do, they focus on business use and functionality that not every consumer in the US needs that level of precision and security. For the many reasons above, US consumers will gravitate to something that meets their personal and practical needs better. So will RIM recover market share the glory days of years ago? My bet is, not likely. But is that failure? No. Focus on a specfic segment, execute, then own it.

To the cultural point of consumers abroad and why RIM is thriving over there? Are they liviing with the same type of life and exposure to daily living influences as North American consumers? Most are not. People want to connect with family and friends in ways they can afford. Right now, RIM does that better for those consumers than Apple or Android platforms. Will that change, pretty sure ot will.

RIM's platform is solid. That's a given. They just need to decide if you want to sell to Main Street or Wall Street mostly. As we see it today, it's hard to be both.

DANESCO

Chris,

Kevin should be proud you have done a wonderful job and the responses very informative and factual. I'm a fan since the Nextel 7520's. I know own the 9850 and a Playbook. I cant see that I would change from Blackberry to and Android device (never to Apple) I would like to see less lag time and faster process speeds from the next generation of phones. Thank You

SBerryTour

Good article and analysis. But, I have to get this off my chest:

The problem is everyone including RIM is waiting for BB 10. The launch and promotion of BB 7 devices as many are aware of, was completely botched. That was a golden opportunity to begin raising awareness of the new Blackberries. Most people have no idea what a huge step forward
was taken with the browsers in 9900 and 9800 lines.

Furthermore, rather than really try and point out the new hardware and capabilities, RIM and I hate to say it, even Crackberry focused on the very traditional keyboard 9900 series. Most former or non BB users did not even give that a second glance. To them, it looked like the same old BB. The Torch 9850/50 series with a large touch screen was way better suited to raising awareness and promoting BB 7 and the new hardware. The New Torch would not as easily be mistaken as the same old BB. Non hard core BB users would likely be much more tempted by this perhaps in their mind "more up to date phone" than the Bold.

By the time BB10 is in store, we are looking at well over a year which could have been put to good use by properly marketing the BB 7 devices. RIM also dropped the ball big time by failing to educate carriers about the new phones. Everyone knows that most store employees knew very little about BB7 devices and many of us know of cases where they discouraged BB 7 uptake.

What a disaster. Wake up RIM. Its not only about the hardware. Nothing wrong with BB7. You just don't know how to sell it.

togardergrosse

What a read!
From my opinion, the clock is ticking.
People who already know of BB10 will WAIT for it.
They will still hold with their OS6 or even OS5 BB until the BB10 released.
One thing that made me curious. Why the today's BB7 devices won't be able to get BB10 updates?
I mean, that's fair for the Curve lines, but really, the Bolds and Torches use 1Ghz++ processor and 512Mb++ RAM! Is QNX will be that resource hog?
Take a look at 'Tango', the cheap version of Windows Phone 7 lines that will be able to run at lower and smaller number of computing speed as today's BB.
Not to mention Android too.
There should be a 'lighter' version of BB10 OS that could run, at least, on Bold or Torch with OS7.
Just promise give the update, and I can make sure people won't think twice to buy BB7.

PS: I'm proud to be part of CB with editorial like this.

iririr

I live in Australia, and BB plans are less flexible and more expensive. for instance you can get an iphone/andriod phone with unlimited talk and text and 500 mb of data for 50 bux...but if you have a blackberry it starts at 65 dollars (for a 2 yr contract with Vodafone).

When I asked Vodafone why this was the case, they said operating BES is expensive and they cannot offer the same rates as other phone plans...

This is one reason I haven't upgraded my 9700 to 9900...it's just not worth it...

Puz_zled

That's a Vodaphone issue recouping losses on selling iPhone at huge subsidy by making it up selling BlackBerry data plan at huge markup. Just activated a 9900 with unlimited talk and unlimited social networking for 37/month (initial phone cost of $100) on Bell

Sent from my BlackBerry Playbook

leftypepper716

The next gen BB OS10 devices better at least competitive or lead in some way, If not RIM is doomed in the USA before 2014.

IqWaN

RIM, we are going to take the others down. It is we that brought a revolution in the communication a few years back.

Failure is not Falling down, it is when you refuse to stand up a fight again.

I Love RIM and Blackberry

Love Crackberry too.

IqWaN

BB 9780 white os 6
pin:236154FD

BB Playbook 32gb os 2.0.0.7971

Maxey05

All I see are these new and even better phones coming out! Quad-Core to be exact! RIM better come out with something AMAZING! or else Blackberry will be no more.. I'm praying for them because I believe in what they stand for and I hope they reach the level of potential I know they can reach!

IqWaN

A message for RIM!

Whenever you feel down in life &
You lose all hopes in life..
Just close your eyes and say
"I have to prove, not to the world,
but to myself...!"
RIM-Research In Motion, indeed.
You guys are the best for me no matter what.

IqWaN

BB 9780 white os 6
pin:236154FD

BB Playbook 32gb os 2.0.0.7971

heri16

Well, can somebody EXPLAIN this? That blackberry is now dead in indonesia (which was supposedly their largest market)? http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_os-ID-monthly-200812-201203

Niann-Tsyr

In The Netherlands BB is quite popular. The carriers advertise for the young people a lot about BBM (here they use the word: pingen), Whatsapp, FB, Twitter, Hyves (Dutch social network) and in the past also about 'unlimited data'. That has changed now. There are data limits since last year august and now they want to change their policies again. What I notice is, is that iPhone subscriptions in NL have more benefits than BB. With BB I need to take not only a Call-SMS-Web subscription, but I need to add on top of that a BB Bundle to get the BIS and push email, while the iPhone has a special all-inclusive subscription. This is done by Vodafone, KPN and Tmobile. I wonder why.