I get it’s become fashionable to report opinions as fact today, so if you follow RIM you pretty much see this on daily basis. Similarly, I also get why in the past developers moved away from RIM for its poor developer tools and not listening enough to their needs. But RIM has undergone a massive change from its past and while wall street will continue to write the same story until RIM is able to report some positive earnings, RIM has revamped its developer tools and making or porting apps for BlackBerry has never been easier.
But I have to say not all developers have let the old RIM go and there are some who continue to point to old facts that simply are not true anymore. Even more amazing to me is when I hear a developers say they would much rather develop for Windows mobile OS than BlackBerry. I can’t help but scratch my head because from a number’s point of view RIM would be the logical choice in the short term and has a better long term prospect than Windows in my opinion. Microsoft is a successful company but mobile is not one of their strengths. Yet blogs and some developers seem to have a more upbeat outlook for Windows mobile OS and I can’t seem to figure out why. The numbers show a operating system that is having trouble knocking RIM out of third place even as RIM transitions from an aged operating system.
I believe RIM is more likely to solidify its position as the 3rd mobile platform with the possibility of moving up to even 2nd or 1st place in the future if it executes probably with BlackBerry 10. RIM has three major strengths to Windows mobile OS:
- Large current customer base of 80 million to draw on for BlackBerry 10.
- RIM has a stronger international presence than Window which has been helped it off set market share lost in the US and bought it sometime during its transition.
- RIM has a stronger brand presence in the mind of the average consumer than Microsoft’s Windows 8 mobile. Weather its good or bad at least the average consumer knows about RIM and its BlackBerry smartphone.
Large user base to present BB10 to
If you’re a developer my guess is it’s better to spend your time developing for a platform that has an install base than one that’s trying to get an install base. RIM in its last quarter reported that its user base increased from 78 million to 80 million. That’s huge considering all the transition the company is undertaking.
Since Nokia has essentially become Microsoft’s biggest Windows mobile partner, I will use their third quarterly report of 2012. Nokia reported it shipped 2.9 million Lumias phones which is down from 4 million it reported in the previous quarter. And just to provide a full picture, it had shipped 2 million the quarter before that. RIM reported it shipped 7.4 million devices in its recent quarter. I don’t believe these numbers are an indication that Windows mobile OS will not succeed, but it does show the uphill challenge Windows and its partner face.
Stronger market presence
A company’s market share offers a snap shot view of how a company is performing at a particular time. I’m not a fan of using market share to evaluate a company but will use it to indicate each OS’s market presence currently . According to ComScore MobiLens, Windows operating system had a market share of 5.2% as of November 2011 and further dropped to 3.6% by September 2012 in the United States. At the same time BlackBerry operating system dropped from 16.6% in November 2011 to 8.4% as of September 2012 in the United States. In summary both companies are losing shares in the US and Microsoft is struggling to stay afloat.
But here are a couple of things to keep in mind with RIM. It hasn’t delivered its newest platform and furthermore its reduced market share in the US is not a reflection of how the company is performing in other markets around the world. RIM had a 47% market share in Indonesia as of 2011 according the The Wall Street Journal, 12.3% in India as of March 2012 according to CyberMedia Research, and 4.8% in the United Kingdom in the second quarter of 2012 according to IDC. These numbers are decreasing but RIM a large customer base to try and make a case to stay with its platform, unlike Microsoft that has to first make the case for people to look at its OS and than convince them to switch platform. It’s a basic rule that it’s cheaper and easier to retain existing customers than trying to attract new customers.
RIM takes a different approach from Microsoft on platform transition
Unlike Microsoft, BlackBerry is still an active name in consumers’ minds when it comes to mobile be it bad or good. While it’s lost some ground and faces an uphill battle in the US market, it has built a successful global market presence in emerging markets, giving itself time to improve on some of its short comings. Microsoft took a different approach. It left the mobile industry to revamp its OS and essentially gave its loyal user base no reason to hang around and therefore adopting alternative platforms.
The approach RIM is taking with BlackBerry 10 is the right now. It’s more likely to be successful in solidifying it as the third major mobile platform with the possibility of moving up in years to come. RIM presents a better business opportunity for developers to tap into a market that is up an coming in terms of application. Developers should view BB10 as an emerging platform and like entering an emerging market getting in early can lead to having first mover advantage. BlackBerry 10 allows RIM to play defense and go on the offensive and there a huge opportunity for developers to make a lot of money so long as they spend time to make good applications.