Research In Motion: BlackBerry Market Share To Fall Below Windows Mobile; Share Of Web Traffic Collapses To 1%

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THORSTEN HEINS BLACKBERRY MARKET SHARE
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. Research In Motion has fallen so far, so fast that its BlackBerry devices now account for only one per cent of web traffic, and the company will soon have less market share than the little-used Windows Mobile platform, according to two new research reports. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/GettyImages) | Getty Images

Research In Motion has fallen so far, so fast that its BlackBerry devices now account for only one per cent of web traffic in North America, and the company will soon have less U.S. market share than the little-used Windows Mobile platform, according to two new research reports.

According to StatCounter data compiled by the WMPowerUser blog, RIM’s U.S. market share is declining so rapidly it will soon have fewer users than Windows Mobile, which has so far been seen as an also-ran in the struggle for the booming smartphone market.

RIM’s U.S. market share was slightly above six per cent at the start of this year, and will fall to around 1.5 per cent in November, at the same time Windows Mobile comes up to that level, WMPowerUser projected.

“The launch of a new range of Windows Phones in October or November in USA is likely to accelerate the trend, cementing Windows Phone as the (very minor) third player” in that market, the blog reported.

At the same time, a study of Internet traffic has found BlackBerry devices account for only about one per cent of web traffic in North America, down from between 4 and 5 per cent as recently as last fall.

That compares a 63-per-cent market share for Apple devices, which Chikita Insights -- which carried out the research -- described as “staggering.”

Chikita notes in its report that Apple and RIM actually have very similar business models -- they both control physical handsets and the operating systems that run them, unlike Google’s Android and Microsoft’s Windows Mobile, which are only operating systems that run on other companies’ devices.

“Despite the original similarity in mobile business models,” Chikita Insights reports, the two companies now “show two nearly polar opposite results.”

“If RIM is to survive, it is either going to need to integrate its hardware and software to create a stunning, unique device, or change its business model to focus only on creating the hardware or software for smartphones,” the report concludes, noting that RIM has already taken steps in that direction with its new operating system, which any smartphone maker will be able to licence.

However, many observers have asked why any company would choose to sell BlackBerry phones at a time when the company is rapidly losing customers.

And the launch of the new operating system has been delayed to next year, one of many product launch delays in recent years that have frustrated customers and investors alike.

The company had a rare bit of good news last week, when its stock price soared after reports IBM may be interested in purchasing RIM’s enterprise division, which operates the encrypted networks RIM’s popular messaging service runs on.

But layoffs at the company continued apace, with its Nova Scotia office losing a quarter of its staff.

RIM reported a first-quarter loss of $518 million earlier this year, its first net loss since the company’s market share began to dive several years ago. The company told investors it expects to post a loss for all of 2012 as well, as it struggles to get delayed products to market.

The company’s messaging has also been criticized by some. Following the release of first-quarter results, CEO Thorsten Heins declared that “there's nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” a statement made to assuage investors' fears but that caused many to wonder whether RIM’s chief executive was taking the company’s problems seriously enough.

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