BlackBerry’s downward spiral is not a new story. But with RIM finally taking steps to possibly phase out their BlackBerry handsets, will Apple’s iPhone 5 be able to absorb RIM’s remaining market share in the business sector?
Anyone who follows mobile computing and technology news has been well aware of RIM’s terminal condition in the smartphone marketplace — we’ve all essentially been waiting to hear of the company’s eventual sell-out or phase-out of its once-domineering BlackBerry devices. In spite of the fact that the BlackBerry brand once ruled both consumer and business sectors of the mobile computing marketplace, it appears that RIM is now taking steps to distance itself from the handset business.
According to the Toronoto Sun:
“BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is considering splitting its business in two, separating its struggling handset manufacturing division from its messaging network, The Sunday Times reported. RIM, which last month hired JP Morgan and RBC Capital to look at its strategic options, could break off its handset division into a separate listed company or sell it, the British newspaper said without citing sources.”
The two options here are interesting, since breaking off BlackBerry into a separate company would dry up much of RIM’s red ink that comes from the failing BlackBerry brand, making it nothing more than a niche player in the smartphone market. To this end, BlackBerry could possibly become a quirkier, more interesting smartphone designer, particularly if their sales expectations becoming considerably lowered.
But the sales option is what strikes a chord with Apple enthusiasts. You might recall that there have been suggestions in the past that Apple could buy up BlackBerry in a bid to completely subsume their market share, thus trumping Android and expanding their appeal to business users. However, rumors of potential buyers go well beyond Apple: “Potential buyers would include Amazon and Facebook. . . adding that RIM’s messaging network could also be sold, or opened up to rivals such as Apple and Google to generate income.”
One can imagine BlackBerry’s overall design to be best suited for a Facebook smartphone, what with the manual thumb pad, which could appeal to avid social media users.
But as far as Apple is concerned, it would appear that Cupertino will be content to compete in the business sector with the iPhone 5.
The rumored features, as well as the new features rolling out with iOS 6, point to an iPhone 5 that could very well appeal to business users, even beyond the increased market share in the business sector that the iPhone has already managed to achieve. With increased performance thanks to a larger display and more powerful processor, as well as further integration with iCloud and Siri, will continue to appeal to business users who are looking for a unified ecosystem for sharing data and bringing their digital workspace with them wherever they go.
And new iOS 6 features such as passbook and Apple’s maps will appeal to business travelers as well.
At this juncture, BlackBerry’s legacy hardware design would not appear to have much of a future. RIM clearly tried to rebrand its designs starting back in 2007 when the iPhone got going, seeking to suggest that iPhone-style smartphones would not appeal to business users. Both Apple and its competing Android designers, however, have proven that what’s good for their consumer-based target audiences can also work for business professionals as well.
For as much as RIM might try to salvage what they can from the BlackBerry brand, 2012 appears to be the year that BlackBerry will die.
By Michael Nace