BlackBerry 10 will solidify RIM’s position as the third major mobile platform

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:

  1. Large current customer base of 80 million to draw on for BlackBerry 10.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

13 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I just hope for RIM that the launch not only goes off well but that the apps are all there at launch.

    I love Blackberry and bbm but a lot of Blackberry owners I know are ready to ditch it anytime if BB10 is not what is promised.

    Hate to be negetive but RIM has a monumental job ahead and after the poor launch of Playbook and the delays, I still have my doubts of a turnaround.

  2. I see huge upside on RIM because BlackBerry users are very finicky and dependent on their devices. They’ve been waiting years for RIM to release their next generation devices. Even when BB10 was delayed 1 year and another 4 months, BlackBerry users were very patient. Some who have left for “apparent greener pastures” will return in force once BB10 devices are released. I believe even current BB users will gladly drop out of current carrier contracts (and suck back carrier penalties) and pick up a new BB10 device in the first two quarters of 2013.

    Folks have not seen the huge changes internally at RIM. We can see a lot of the results of those internal reshuffling — more timely delivery of products and more refined products and services. I don’t think you’ll see a repeat of the initial launch of the PlayBook. I assure you that RIM has learned its lesson well! Thorsten will not be making that same mistake.

  3. I can see this is a all new RIMM. The reason why the PlayBook failed is: 1. Not enough marketing – people still don’t know it exists!I hope this changes when BB10 comes out; 2. The PlayBook was not complete, a lot of stuff was still missing – BB10 looks like everything will be there at launch. 3. The management team at the time seemed unwilling and unable to change course and was not open to the consumer – I am confident this current team is more open and flexible and will listen to the consumers.

    • The PlayBook was designed to be bridged with the BlackBerry phone. It should have had its own PIM software but it didn’t. RIM was blasted for this, but they fixed it. It took much longer than it should have, but it was done. As a result, the PlayBook didn’t fully recover. It was still a decent device but not ready for prime time with non-BlackBerry folks.

  4. I think it’s important to note that a “struggling” RIM shipped 7.4 million *one-year-old devices* this last quarter, while Nokia shipped 2.9 million *new* Windows Phone devices. When BB10 launches, RIM will no longer be looked at as “struggling”, folks won’t be talking about RIM’s demise, or RIM being sold off. RIM will also have fabulously new devices to compete with the top smartphone makers, and RIM will have something new under the hood that is quite unique and very powerful! From work to personal, an all singing and all dancing OS — great browsing experience but also very app-hungry!

  5. Plus if you are developing for Android, iOS or HTML5 RIM has made it so you are basically developing for BB10.

    BB10 just has to be as good as the other and it’ll be fine. People like options, they like new things, and this market is in its infancy. Even if they don’t blow the doors of this release they aren’t going anywhere. They will have a portion of the smartphone market but are poised to dominate the mobile computing market.

  6. A solid #3? Sure, RIM should be able to pull that off. Once folks shake off the “your daddy’s BlackBerry” perceptions. But #2 or #1? What are you smokin’?

  7. “Large current customer base of 80 million to draw on for BlackBerry 10.”
    Forget about that. RIM can’t sell high-end BB10 devices to most of these people. RIM’s bread and butter is the Curve, which won’t be available until…Q3 2013?
    RIM also can’t target large corporations and governments which take forever to upgrade.
    So, RIM has to successfully market their new products to Android and iPhone owners and all these people care about is apps (mostly games).
    So, let’s hope devs start adding BB10 stickers to their download page asap, because I mostly see windows phone stickers as the 3rd option right now.

    • Hi Ofutur,

      I think you have described the challenges RIM needs to overcome in order to be successful. But at the same time there’s no fact that shows RIM can’t sell to the high end market because there hasn’t been such a product. My article wasn’t so much that BB10 is going to be number one……more about if you compare where Microsoft and RIM are at…..the numbers show RIM is in a better position to be successful than Microsoft. I personally don’t think RIM is expecting BB10 to take it to number….at least in the short term. That’s not going to happen but as consumer start and realize most phones can do pretty much the same thing it comes down to personal preference and what each person truly values in a phone. RIM gets this and its trying to send a clear message to consumer and say this is what we are good at and if that’s what you value we are the phone for you. Apple employed this very succesfully. It said this is what we are good at and people adapted to it. So it will be interesting to see what happens but in this industry things change quickly.

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