RIM Loses Last Stronghold...Canada
March 22, 2012

RIM Loses Last Stronghold…Canada

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com

Once powerful RIM has definitely seen its share of pain lately.

Last spring, the maker of the once iconic BlackBerry smartphones launched its first ever tablet device to gasps and sighs rather than the thunderous applause in sales they had hoped for.

They suffered a global service outage in October that sent droves of subscribers switching to other devices. Then in January, a month after announcing their new operating system BlackBerry 10 would be delayed by several months, co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis stumbled from their perch and were replaced with their COO, Thorsten Heins.

But nothing hurts quite like losing on your own turf.

News came today of Apple´s dominance over Waterloo´s smartphone maker. Apple´s iPhone shipped 2.85 million units in the Great White North compared to RIM´s 2.08 million units.

According to Bloomberg's Hugo Miller, the iPhone has been gaining ground on the BlackBerry since its introduction in 2007. In 2010, RIM was still able to outsell Apple by half a million units; In 2008, RIM outsold Apple five to one.

Apple isn´t solely to blame for RIM´s slow and magnificent descent from the top.

While BlackBerry devices are still popular in the Middle East and India, other smartphone makers such as Samsung, LG, and HTC are gaining popularity.

Running Google´s Android operating system, these handset makers are gaining dominance against the long time leader. Until recently, Canada has long been an area where Blackberries sold well.

Blackberries sold in Canada account for 7 percent of total shipments. American sales of the smartphone fell by 45 percent. All told, sales of BlackBerry fell 5.9 percent, according to Bloomberg.

RIM was once the global leader in smartphone and mobile technologies. Governments and corporations embraced the handset, praising it for its security features, email capabilities, and rock-solid performance. According to Alfred DuPuy of research firm Interbrand, RIM lost its way when it fell stagnant in innovation.

“They got so good at innovation they just expected the product to sell itself,” said DuPuy, head of the firm´s Toronto office, according to Miller. “From a brand perspective, they just lost their way.”

In Intebrand´s October ranking of the world´s top 100 brands, RIM fell two spots to number 54. Apple climbed nine spots to number 8.

RIM had a rough year in 2011 as its stock dropped 75 percent after severe market-share losses, poor sales, and product delays piled worse news on top of bad. RIM will hold its quarterly earning call next week, and Bloomberg analysts expect them to announce a fourth quarter loss of 82 cents per share. Sales are likely to have dropped by as much as 18 percent to $4.53 billion, according to analysts.

Canada hasn´t completely abandoned the BlackBerry, however. Many of Canada´s banks still issue BlackBerry´s to their employees. The Royal Bank of Canada, the nation´s largest, still uses the smartphone to conduct their business, according to Bloomberg. Bank of Nova Scotia and Bank of Montreal also rely on the BlackBerry for their business.

Providing RIM can produce and ship their new line of Blackberries with their revamped OS (BlackBerry 10), they may be able to reclaim some of this lost ground. If the past year has taught us anything, however, it´s that RIM isn´t especially great at shipping on schedule.

Michael Harper for RedOrbit.com