RIM BlackBerry Losing Ground in Native Canada to Apple iPhone

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(Photo: Lorena Molinari)
(Photo: Lorena Molinari)

BUSINESS

  • Canadians purchased 2.08 million BlackBerrys in 2011 compared to 2.82 million iPhones
  • Research in Motion fails to aggressively market its smartphones
  • Blackberry still popular in emerging markets

Research In Motion Ltd., manufacturer of the BlackBerry mobile device, is losing sales and revenue in its native Canada to Apple Inc’s star iPhone. In 2011, for the first time since the debut of the BlackBerry, the company failed to reach the top spot for smartphone sales.

According to research compiled by IDC and Bloomberg, 2.08 million BlackBerrys were sold last year compared to 2.82 million iPhones.

RIM has enjoyed loyalty among Canadians since its launch. Customers, however, now prefer touch screens to keyboards and the large library of iPhone apps. RIM’s share of the market has been shrinking for the past six years due to tough competition from both the iPhone and Google’s Android platform.

Paul Taylor, a fund manager at BMO Harris Private Banking in Toronto who handles both RIM and Apple shares, told Bloomberg Businessweek: “For RIM, in its home market, to lose that No. 1 position to iPhone is strategically important. It does identify, even with a home-country bias, how consumers are responding to the greater functionality of the iPhone.”

Thorsten Heins took over as RIM CEO earlier this year and said he will do something drastically different. Analysts say RIM has innovative products, but has failed to aggressively market them.

BlackBerry Sales Strong in Emerging Markets

Sales of BlackBerrys have fallen 23% in Canada and 45% in the US for the third fiscal quarter, while globally revenue is down nearly 6%.

RIM will release its fourth quarter reports later today, with analysts predicting that sales fell 18% and profit fell have 50%. Earlier last week, stocks closed 91% lower compared to mid-2008.

While sales in North American are slumping, sales in emerging markets of Latin America, Africa and Saudi Arabia have remained strong.

As a consequence, RIM has expressed interest in hiring software developers with iPhone experience. According to a job posting on LinkedIn, RIM would like to adapt some of its applications for use with Apple.

The BlackBerry 10 is expected to debut later this year, and the BlackBerry World conference is scheduled for the first week of May.

Key Statistics - Mobile Device Market Share In Canada (source: IDC)

  • In 2011, the number of BlackBerrys shipped to Canada by RIM totaled 2.08 million.
  • During that same time, Apple shipped 2.85 million iPhones to Canada.
  • In 2008, the BlackBerry out sold the iPhone five-to-one while, in 2010, totaling 500,000 more BlackBerrys sold than iPhones.

By Melina Druga for
Melina Druga is an American writer and editor. She is the author of Enterprising Women: Practical Advice for First Time Entrepreneurs.

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