There is life left in what seemed to be a dried up old fruit. RIM has re-launched and rejuvenated itself as Blackberry and introduced long-anticipated Blackberry 10 OS. Is there a surprise coming from BlackBerry after such a long wait? If we’re left to guess, perhaps we should not count Blackberry out, yet.
The plain numbers Blackberry is facing in today's marketplace are depressing. Gone are the days when the Blackberry was synonymous with the smartphone pioneer that redefined business and enterprise communications. A Blackberry in your pocket won't get you compliments anymore, but questions why you want to live with such an antiquated phone.
In a segment that it once shaped, the company is currently estimated to only hold 1.6 percent of the market in the United States. Kantar Worldpanel ComTech recently estimated that RIM may have lost close to 7 points of market share in Q3 2012 alone.
According to IDC, RIM barely made the Top 5 smartphone vendor ranking in 2012. With 32.5 million phones sold and a market share of 4.6 percent, it came in behind HTC, Nokia, Apple and Samsung. It fell out of the ranking for the second half of the year. For 2011, RIM ranked fourth with 51.1 million smartphones sold and a share of 10.4 percent. And yes, there has been a trend. For 2010, when it dropped out of the list of the five largest cell phone makers, RIM was second behind Nokia with 48.8 million phones sold and a market share of 16.1 percent.
It does not take much to predict that 2013 will be a year in which Blackberry will prove that the platform is still relevant, or further sink, die or be acquired and face a fate that may not be too different from Palm's painful demise.
As we digest the news of new Blackberry 10 platform and the Z10 phone, the renamed company has made an important first step. It impressed tech and mainstream media outlets and created a certain buzz that has certainly created renewed interest. Blackberry also avoided shooting itself in the foot, a talent that Microsoft and its partners have mastered.
Remember the fake video shown by Nokia during the presentation of the Windows-based Lumia 920 phone, which could have cost the company millions in unit sales. Or Microsoft's first Windows Phone 7 "Really" commercial, which may have been the most effective tool in advertising history to kill the product it was supposed to promote—by telling us that using the smartphones we love is a waste of time.
Wolfgang GruenerWolfgang Gruener is a contributor to Tom's IT Pro. He is currently principal analyst at Ndicio Research, a market analysis firm that focuses on cloud computing and disruptive technologies, and maintains the conceivablytech.com blog. An 18-year veteran in IT journalism and market research, he previously published TG Daily and was managing editor of Tom's Hardware news, which he grew from a link collection in the early 2000s into one of the most comprehensive and trusted technology news sources.
See here for all of Wolfgang's Tom's IT Pro articles.
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