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Competitors eat into BlackBerry’s market share

Amrita Nair Ghaswalla
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The much-anticipated and much-delayed BlackBerry 10, expected in late 2012, has several contenders in the fray. Even as maker Research in Motion (RIM) waits in the wings to launch it, mobile phone giants such as Samsung and Apple continue to chip away at RIM’s market share.

Analysts insist RIM will be further challenged by the planned release of the iPhone 5, expected to reach the market late 2012.

“RIM's revenues dropped 25 per cent to Rs 1,460 crore from Rs 1,950 crore. Among the top 10 mobile handset vendors in the country, RIM had a market share of 4.7 per cent and was at the fourth spot behind Nokia, Samsung and Micromax,” said Vignesh Arora, telecom analyst at Prosound Equipment. He was referring to a survey by Voice&Data.

Samsung on the rise

Korean handset maker Samsung, in comparison, saw its revenues jump 38 per cent to Rs 7,891 crore in 2011-12 from Rs 5,720 crore in the previous fiscal. It had a market share of 25.3 per cent, the survey noted.

Though India is one of the few growing markets for RIM, the company has been facing falling sales all across the globe.

“Sales of BlackBerry phones recently fell 41 per cent. Though RIM has said the new BB10 will include the ability to run multiple programs at once and will let users switch between programs, by the time it appears on the market, there will be several choices, including a new iPhone and devices running the latest version of Google’s Android software,”' said Keshav Bajaj, telecom analyst at a multinational bank.

On its part, Samsung is deliberating some new launches, though it has 17 smartphone models available across varied OS platforms. According to research firm Strategy Analytics, Samsung shipped 50.5 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2012, twice as many as Apple.

Analysts also maintain that RIM could be courting Samsung to license its upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform.

Ranjit Yadav, Country Head at Samsung Mobile, is non-committal.

“Samsung has established its market leadership in the smartphone market in India on the basis of its innovative product portfolio, differentiated retail strategy and its multiplatform strategy,” he said.

Samsung has offerings across Android, Windows and bada platforms.

In a report on smartphones, tablets and the rise (and fall) of RIM, market research firm Frost & Sullivan has noted that “If the steps RIM is taking now had occurred a year or two ago, RIM would be primed to establish itself as a strong third ecosystem along with Android and Apple.”

The report adds that RIM is not just focused on fixing the issues that have set the company back in the smartphone era, but is also looking to the future. For example, Near Field Communication (NFC) is a quickly growing technology with the promise to make applications such as mobile payments, mobile-to-mobile communication, and building access possible from a mobile device.

“RIM is putting much attention on NFC as an enabling technology, and is even educating developers on how to build great apps that include NFC capability.

“If RIM can grab a market leadership position in emerging technologies like NFC and can survive until BlackBerry 10’s release, the company still may have an opportunity to rebuild the strong consumer following it has enjoyed historically,”' adds an analyst with the Telecommunications Practice, Frost & Sullivan, Europe.

Smartphone era

RIM’s brand will need the boost, the report adds, as it seems to be the only major output until BlackBerry 10 launch.

“Half a year in the smartphone space is an eternity. Nokia can attest to the negatives of idle time during a market share slide, as its own struggles with the Symbian platform and a new Microsoft partnership have left this traditional market leader far behind in the smartphone era,” adds the report.

amritanair.ghaswalla@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 8, 2012)
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