BlackBerry 10: The underdog is coming after Windows Phone

BlackBerry 10: The underdog is coming after Windows Phone

Summary: Research in Motion has been all but counted out but the imminent launch of BlackBerry 10 may put them back in the smartphone game. Microsoft better be looking over its shoulder.

Credit: CBS Sports

Research in Motion (RIM) has been practically written off by many watching the smartphone space, but that may be premature with BlackBerry 10 coming to market. RIM is a big underdog to be sure but don't count them out yet. It has Windows Phone firmly in its sight.

I am writing this column after watching my hometown NFL team, the Houston Texans, eliminated from the American football playoffs. Thinking back on the Texans' 2012 season I see a similarity to RIM's run with the BlackBerry.

Fun fact: on the original iPhone launch date I avoided the lines and bought my first BlackBerry.

This season the Houston Texans surged to a top seed position with dominant wins week after week. At one point they were the #1 team in the league and were expected to race into the Super Bowl. That fell apart toward the end of the season as the team hit a slump that knocked it out of the top tier and put them firmly in the underdog category.

This was in part because the other teams in the league were upping their games as the playoffs approached. Game play got tougher as opponents scrambled to play their best games. The Houston Texans on the other hand seemed content to coast into the final part of the season without upping their own game.

In spite of this slump the Houston Texans stumbled into the playoffs and played well enough to get close to playing for the conference championship. Almost isn't good enough though, and the team from Houston was eliminated by the formidable New England Patriots.

Why does this make me think of RIM and the BlackBerry? Like my home team the Texans, RIM was at the top of the smartphone game for a long time. The BlackBerry was dominant in the enterprise and even worked its way into the consumer market. The BlackBerry was entrenched in the top tier as firmly as can be until the game changed.

The appearance of the iPhone and then Android phones upped the smartphone game and apparently caught RIM by surprise. Like my Houston Texans, RIM seemed content to ride its dominance in the space without upping its game to meet the competition on equal footing.

The result for RIM was the same as it was for my Houston Texans as the BlackBerry rapidly fell in popularity and was knocked out of the top seed by Apple (iPhone) and Google (Android). RIM quickly found it was in trouble as sales slumped and market share plummeted. 

The company needs to up its game to meet this threat and the modernized BlackBerry 10 is the way to do it. Unfortunately RIM took its sweet time in bringing it to market, slipping further from the top tier as a result.

RIM's BlackBerry 10 is unquestionably the big underdog in the smartphone game and while late to the game the new BlackBerry may still be in time to help RIM regain some of its former glory.

The launch date for BlackBerry 10 is January 30 with new handsets to appear shortly after that date. We may see the new BlackBerry phones hit the ground running and quickly start grabbing market share from the competition.

Last year I detailed why Windows Phone will be threatened by BlackBerry 10. Microsoft with Windows Phone 8 should be particularly wary of the BlackBerry 10 launch, given its platform hasn't gained much market share in the relatively long time it's been available.

In spite of the slippage in market share RIM still has a large enthusiast community. This crowd has stood by the BlackBerry even though is has stagnated for a while. This is partly why the BlackBerry to this day still has more sales than Windows Phone.

The new market share that BlackBerry 10 will grab will most likely come out of the Windows Phone bin in the smartphone aisle. This is significant as RIM smartphone market share is still more than double that of Windows Phone in spite of its collapse, a testament to the faithfulness of the enthusiast community.

RIM and BlackBerry 10 has an advantage over Microsoft and Windows Phone given the former's long history at the top of the heap. The enterprise has a long-standing relationship with RIM and the BlackBerry and should be willing to reestablish it if BlackBerry 10 is as good as it's looking like it may be.

The new BlackBerry 10 handsets also look to be good candidates for consumers entering the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement. This could ramp up sales nicely for RIM and grab a big slice of the workplace market.

Another market segment that could embrace BlackBerry 10 phones is the teen/young adult group. The BlackBerry was a favorite choice in this group before the iPhone came along, and a recent Forbes article indicates teens are falling out of favor with the iPhone. RIM could make a concerted effort to reclaim its former position of favor with this important market segment and make a decent run into the consumer space.

RIM has another important advantage over Microsoft that will make BlackBerry 10 an immediate threat to Windows Phone. The long history the BlackBerry has with the carriers is very important to the future of RIM. Major US carriers have already committed to embrace BlackBerry 10 devices and this is huge in the US market.

BlackBerry 10 may hit the ground running in both the enterprise and consumer markets and if it grabs market share it will likely come at the expense of Windows Phone. The long history of the BlackBerry in both market segments give it an advantage over Windows Phone and Microsoft better be looking over its shoulder.

See also:

Topics: Smartphones, BlackBerry, Bring Your Own Device

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  • What about?

    "..BlackBerry 10 may hit the ground running in both the enterprise and consumer markets and if it grabs market share it will likely come at the expense of Windows Phone..."

    I thought you said it could also get some of Apple's marketshare since they are falling out of favour with the youngsters.
    Susan Antony
    • it scares

      It really scares a lot of writers silly to think i-phone could lose market share at the expense of RIM. I've been following BB10 closely & I'm afraid its more than Windows that needs to be looking over its shoulder, lot of bloggers know that but have bashed RIM for so long its taking them a while to come around. They are starting to though
      • RIM stands no chance against Microsoft...

        If the smartphone market can only sustain three ecosystems (as many analysts claim), and the third slot is between Microsoft and RIM... then RIM stands almost no chance against Microsoft in the long run. Microsoft is more powerful, better-funded, and more entrenched than RIM can even dream of.

        While Blackberry is still trusted in the enterprise, at the end of the day, it's basically a phone manufacturer. Microsoft, Apple, and Android are now selling "ecosystems"... RIM doesn't have anything that can compete. Eventually, RIM will be overcome by the tighter and tighter integration of Microsoft's products--Windows, Office, SharePoint, Surface... and Windows Phone.

        In short, I think it's already over. RIM/Blackberry may see an uptick in market share, but I think it will be short-lived. Windows Phone 8 is already gaining market share & credibility. It will soon be the third most popular phone OS (if it isn't already), and it will probably overtake iOS in a couple of years as well.
        • Oh you listen to analysts

          First mistake is to listen to analysts. Your last mistake is to listen to analysts. Check with them in a year.
        • Microsoft didn't beat BlackBerry in the past...

          Microsoft isn't new to this phone device thing. Remember Windows Mobile? Despite Microsoft being "more powerful, better-funded, and more entrenched than RIM can even dream of", BlackBerry dominated against them. All that power and money that Microsoft has only kept them in the game, but it doesn't guarantee they'll win (even third place). BlackBerry is still #3 overall, and I don't see Windows Phone 8 taking over that spot.

          Regarding the ecosystem, you will find out that BB10 will have more apps available than any new OS at launch. What RIM has done to transform themselves is amazing. The tools and approach to developers is a winning strategy. Having said that, I don't think WP8 is going away. The idea that only 3 platforms can exist is just a narrative.
          Preston Scheuneman
        • That argument assumes no RIM ecosystem

          That's wrong. Blackberry does have an ecosystem that is behind iron bars rather than a mere "walled garden".
        • Really???

          "Microsoft is more powerful, better-funded, and more entrenched than RIM can even dream of."

          Maybe... but then again.... Microsoft's phones are just plain BAD and their presence in the phone market is less than negligible...

          Microsoft is a bohemoth company on it's way out...
          • thank you beaner1111

            At least not all of you are MS employees. It's truly best, and how no one else is comprehending this yet is just flooring me and worrying me, but it really is best for Microsoft to fall. They're old. They copy, patent and then suck up the money. Not a single product from them aside from Windows 7, is worth my time. Why in the world do you thin PC shipments are down people? Why do you think Apple has been kicking buns? Why do you think one of the most successful video game companies in the world would rather start building their own dedicated gaming console using Linux vs keeping the same format with steam that they have???

            I mean the writing on the wall is there. Google has already proven it can provide the same or superior product for a whole lot less (free!!) Apple has proven they excel with the combined hardware/software package and RIM knows how to do enterprise Comm., and have been for years and years.

            Samsung refusing RT tablets only a few months after announcing support? Or how bout the ridiculous costs required to update a game for the xbox 360??? I just don't get how anyone has the stupidity to stand up for such a crap company. If its because they're an American company, well whoopdy F-N doo, I don't own anything in my home that wasn't made in China anymore.

            So really people, I would absolutely LUV to know!
        • MS employee

          I'm sorry, but I absolutely refuse to believe that there is a consumer who is actually a fan of Microsoft products. IF they are, then it would be due to the fact that they've yet to witness anything else. For the love of God, how is anyone still a loyal supporter of a company that has made absolute crap for the better part of the tech era?

          Seriously, literally, the ONLY products that can even be deemed remotely successful (and its only here in the US) would be the Xbox/Kinect kit and Windows XP. I have yet to see anything else rivaling the quality that MS displayed for those products, even then the Xbox 360 is the most infamous console of all time in terms of hardware failures.

          So why in the flying fruit cake's gluteous maximus do you think WP8, which is literally exactly like WP7-7.5, that has BEEN AROUND FOR EVER AND STILL HAS YET TO SELL. To put that into perspective, it only took Google 2 years to build a mobile OS, and dominate market share. BB10 is most def superior to Android and iOS so far as I've seen, based on this logic, how can you possibly think Microsoft will do anymore than they have?

          and I quote: "Microsoft is a failing software Giant that bleeds their remaining customers dry" Surely being required to pay $60/year for Xbox Live when no other company requires the fee to play online, if they do, guess what? You get so many FREE GAMES MONTHLY.

          But by all means, fools will be fools and if you think Microsoft is anything short of absurdly pathetic, then more than likely you are one.
          • @NHowell14

            I agree with you.

            Ig Windows XP is deemed as "remotely" successful then definitely Windows 7, Microsoft Office, XBOX are all indeed failures (Sarcasm intended, for faint minds).

            Seriously, literally, theoretically, please read more news before coming and posting(bashing) any one at any place.
          • "I absolutely refuse to believe..

            ...that there is a consumer who is actually a fan of Microsoft products"

            And the world is flat.

            HAHAHA. Good way to start your point. Not. Instead perhaps start with facts, but of course that does not suit your 'argument'.

            Windows 7 is over 40% of market share, XP the same, even Vista beats OSX and iOS. There are the facts, sorry.

            There are many of us consumers (including highly technically literate ones like me) who rely on MS products and enjoy using MS products. Windows is incredibly robust and trouble-free. Sorry.
        • re: RIM stands no chance against Microsoft...

          Hmmm, stop reading articles and read the market penetration figures. Better still, check the buzz - who CARES about Windows Phone apart from MS and journalists. Almost no-one. It is NOT the phone of choice for most people.

          Furthermore, the notion of "3 systems" is something again the press is putting forward.

          Lastly, have you actually looked at what BB10 will offer. It is slick and compelling.
    • After the Storm it's hard to get excited

      I'm going to have to see positive reviews of an actual device to start caring. Honestly, I think most of the world has already stopped looking. RIM is going to have to make a lot of noise to get any traction.
      • ...the positive reviews are already coming in

        Admittedly, the Storm likely did turn off a lot of people. RIM's mistake there was in trying to adapt its old OS to a full-touch device. They finally got it right (the current Torch models are decent), but the damage was already done.

        BB10 is already getting some very positive reviews. It has a neat navigation model and a new virtual keyboard that is good enough to win it many new converts.
      • I owned BB Storm 2

        what a POS, crashed constantly(long long long reboot with battery pulls) and slooooooooooooooooow. The UI was great, the performance was just beyond crap. Same story with my gf's bb forget model(her iphone 4s has had 3 repares already too).

        My Nokia 920 just works and is fast.

        IDK how they get around the 2 year contract all the windows phones sold with, maybe if they survice to BB11 or 12.
    • The trouble

      is the same as Microsoft had with WP7 and there are no apps. Worse yet, they have no developers. Microsoft at least has a strong developer base and platform in which to develop apps. This is not the case for BB, although it looks like they put some effort into their platform.
      • The Trouble

        I'm not sure how many total apps wp8 has...I do know that Alec Saunders (vice president / developer relations) tweeted about having received 15,000 app submissions in a 37.5 hour port-a-thon this passed weekend. Say what yu want, but I have never seen a stat like this about windows phone...
        Leigh Kuhn
        • Some Windows Phone App Stats

          The Windows Phone Store is now available in 50 languages, 191 countries or regions around the world, and stocks 120,000 apps and games.
          • RIM will surpass this on day 1

            RIM will launch BlackBerry 10 with more then 120 000 apps in BlackBerry World and more then 20 million songs and millions of movies and TV shows. This will be on day one, not 2 years later.

            RIM is also going to have BlackBerry 10 devices available on 250 carriers around the world in 2013.

            RIM is literally going to launch on Day 1 in a better position then Microsoft with all its OEM partners has been able to establish in 2 1/2 years in the market.

            BlackBerry 10 is going to launch bigger, and ramp up faster then any mobile platform in history. RIM has better carrier relationships then Microsoft could ever dream of having. RIM doesn't have to beg carriers to launch it's products, they are lining up to carry BlackBerry 10 phones.

            Want a cool Nokia Lumia 920? Well, you better like AT&T. Want a BlackBerry Z10 or X10? You can have it on any carrier in the USA!

            Oh, and RIM is competing with Microsoft in other areas that will see massive exponential growth over the next 5 years as well. Microsoft celebrated it's 5 millionth vehicle sold with Windows Embedded since the platforms inception in 2008 late last year. RIM owns QNX, they sold 11 million vehicles in 2011 alone with their embedded Neutrino OS on board.

            M2M. RIM owns the world largest secure network in their NOC. When you have the worlds largest network for secure M2M communications and the worlds most popular embedded OS, you're in good shape to dominate where computing is headed.

            Oh, and RIM is also going to leverage their network for managing secure mobile payments via NFC and their SEM solution was just approved for Visa Transactions. NFC mobile transactions are expected to become a 17 billion per year industry over the next 5 years. RIM is years ahead of everyone else in this area.

            RIM is going to be the Google of Machine to Machine communications. Whether its your car, your thermostat talking to the power grid, your mobile wallet, or mobile phone, if it needs secure information management, or it needs to talk to another computer, that information is going to be processed through RIMs network in the coming years.

            What you think RIM just does smart phones? RIM is in a very good position to enable the next decade of growth in mobile computing. Whether you're using a BlackBerry, and iPhone, a Windows Phone, or the Siemens MRI sent your results directly to your family doctors tablet, or a VW, Chrysler, BMW, Honda, GM, and many more. you're going to be a RIM customer if you're IT department at work manages your phone or your car is due for service at your dealer.
      • sounds like you've been living under a rock

        try googling on that topic about RIM and developers
        Heyhey Hey