Storm Clouds for BlackBerry?

Picture 43RIM’s BlackBerry is the top enterprise smartphone; it’s also the dominant smartphone by marketshare in the US (Nokia dominates outside North America). The Bold and the Tour are well loved, so is the Curve. While BlackBerry loyalty and satisfaction are below the iPhone’s, people love the physical keyboard (I’m not one of them). And BlackBerry has a strong brand. So RIM would appear to be in a good position overall.

However, the Storm — RIM’s “answer” to the iPhone — was quite a disappointment in terms of sales and user experience. The Storm 2, about to launch on Verizon exclusively in the US, has received mixed reviews. It also appears that Verizon is promoting the Moto Droid/Shoales/Tao at the expense of RIM’s marquee device

Microsoft has many reasons to worry about its Windows Mobile platform: not as well loved by enterprise users as BlackBerry, not resonant with consumers, with a weaker user experience than the iPhone and Android devices. That’s all been written about at length. But RIM should now worry too.

Verizon’s ambivalence about Storm 2 is just one warning sign. The widespread availability of Android devices (across carriers) and the fact that they continue to improve should give BlackBerry major concern. BlackBerry devices are not improving as quickly and they remain weak for Internet browsing. RIM has vowed to fix that within a year. 

Picture 44

Source: Morgan Stanley

The iPhone will (probably) never come with a physical keyboard; but many of the existing and forthcoming Android devices do have one, including the new Moto Droid. Here’s the BGR review of the device Verizon has chosen to push instead of the Storm 2:

The Motorola CLIQ was a pretty big disappointment for me personally, but oh man does the Droid make up for it. Sure, there’s a little hype sprinkled in because this is the first Android 2.0 device I’ve had the pleasure of using, but once you move past the initial “wow” factor, the Droid really delivers. Whether it’s Verizon’s ad campaign or Motorola’s that pits the Droid against the iPhone it doesn’t matter. The Droid isn’t an iPhone competitor because nothing at this point in time is an iPhone competitor besides the new iPhone. And things don’t have to be right now. Everyone can eat. So will the Motorola Droid be successful? Absolutely, we think. It will eat in to BlackBerry sales, Windows Mobile sales, and positively murder any lingering Palm Pre sales. It’s that good. Did you notice how Verizon still hasn’t announced the BlackBerry Storm2?

So we start to see a smartphone market emerging that may have the iPhone and Android (collectively) battling for the top position, with BlackBerry in third place, followed potentially by WinMo and Palm — if it remains an independent company. Nokia is probably nowhere to be seen in the US and suffers declining share abroad. Now all this might change if:

  • The iPhone stays with AT&T for longer than the next 6 months
  • Windows Mobile 7 is great
  • Nokia introduces a radical, low priced smartphone in the US 
  • The Pixi does really well and/or Palm introduces other great devices across multiple carriers
  • RIM improves the overall user experience, the mobile Internet experience and gets touch screen devices right

2 Responses to “Storm Clouds for BlackBerry?”

  1. Jeff Tadie Says:

    Hey Greg, been wondering if regulation….no texting in the car, no smart phones (or any USB-enabled drive/devises) at govt contractor offices, etc…could enable an industry player to introduce simpler voice nav or similar. Just a thought.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Jeff: it’s interesting to consider how regulation might affect the market. However I don’t think it will have a major impact.

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