What awaits BlackBerry

How popular are RIM products? BlackBerry now has 67 million users, and its products are rapidly spreading in regions such as Western Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Southeast Asia. Over the last quarter, the company’s profit increased by 16% compared to the previous year.

So, it would seem that the Canadian smartphone manufacturer has nothing to complain about.
The other side of the coin
But not everything is so cloudless. For example, in the US, the popularity of its smartphones is rapidly falling. According to comScore, back in February 2010, RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones accounted for 42% of all smartphones in the country, far ahead of devices based on Apple, Microsoft and Google platforms.
But less than a year and a half later, RIM’s share in the mobile market began to plummet. According to the Nielsen research company, by the end of July 2011, RIM’s share in the American market was only 19%. This decline occurred during a period of rapid growth in the popularity of smartphones in the United States. If in 2009 smartphones accounted for only 16% of all mobile devices, then in July 2011 this figure rose to 40%, the Nielsen company adds.
But on the other hand, from March to May of this year, RIM’s international sales increased by 67%. This popularity can partly be explained by the demand for powerful smartphones, as well as the tough promotion of BlackBerry devices through mobile operators.
The decrease in the share of BlackBerry is also partly due to the emergence of competitive products from Apple and Google. “Even when RIM’s share in the mobile market was falling, sales volumes were growing, but not as fast as sales of iOS and Android phones,” says Ross Rubin, executive director of the NPD Group, a consumer behavior research company. “But it couldn’t go on forever. In the end, RIM came to a negative performance in the US mobile market.”
RIM’s position may worsen in the coming months, as in June the company lowered the expected amount of revenue for the next quarter, which will end in mid-September. RIM also announced temporary production suspensions in order to streamline the company’s activities. And according to the latest survey by NPD, future buyers will most likely choose smartphones among Android devices, iPhone, or even a novelty from Microsoft – Windows Phone 7, and only then they will consider buying a BlackBerry.
Touch screensBlackBerry has to compete with a huge number of smartphones with touch screens.

This fall, a new iPhone is expected to be released, besides, Android-based smartphones with 4-inch high-resolution touch screens and dual-core processors are already on sale. In August, RIM “attacked” competitors by releasing 3 new phones: Bold 9900, Torch 9850 and Torch 9810. All 3 work on the basis of the latest BlackBerry 7 mobile platform, equipped with an improved browser with HTML 5 and JavaScript support, implemented NFC (wireless communication technology), more attractive graphics and new touch screen capabilities.

According to Mike Abramsky, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, RIM has done a lot of work and improved the touch interface. “Of course, these changes cannot be called revolutionary, as in the case of the iPhone, but, of course, it will increase the competitiveness of BlackBerry.”

It’s too early to judge how popular BlackBerry 7-based devices will be among consumers, but it’s expected that at least the new mobile operating system will please RIM fans. According to RBC, most of those who have already bought BlackBerry 7 have previously purchased RIM products. 

Attracting customersWill BlackBerry smartphones be able to attract new customers?

Analysts say that, despite the good design, the new smartphones have not undergone drastic changes. 3G Bold 9900 is a typical business–oriented smartphone with a keyboard from RIM. The price of the device ranges from $ 250 to $ 300, although usually the price of 3G phones does not exceed $ 200.

The Torch 9850 touchscreen phone is easy to use, but it does not have a wide selection of applications and runs on an operating system that is not specifically designed for a touchscreen phone.

According to Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney, RIM has never been a leader among touchscreen smartphones. RIM touch devices work on the basis of an operating system originally created for keyboard phones, which often makes it difficult to use them.

The release of the iPhone in 2007 radically changed the idea of what a smartphone should be. Keyboard phones focused on e-mail have been replaced by touch devices that allow you to listen to music, take photos and use the Internet.

New HTC, Motorola and Samsung touch phones have pushed RIM keyboard smartphones in the mobile market.

The Storm and Storm 2 touchscreen smartphones were supposed to compete with the iPhone and Android. However, these devices have not become popular among users. One of the reasons for this was the controversial SurePress technology. The essence of this innovation is that when touching the touch screen, the user feels the force of pressing and even hears a click, as when working with a keyboard. According to Ken Dulaney, RIM is still the leader among manufacturers of keyboard phones, but the consumer is no longer interested in them. The company needs to work on improving touch-screen devices.

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