From what the numbers show, RIM's buy-one-get-one-free Blackberry promotion was a first quarter smash, sending consumer sales figures skyrocketing past the competition - namely, the iPhone. (Techmeme)
Don't get me wrong. This is a good thing for RIM - and Verizon. Market research firm NPD Group says RIM's market share jumped 15 percent from the previous quarter up to nearly 50 percent. (Apple and Palm each lost 10 percent share for the quarter). Those new Blackberry owners are now locked into the pricier data plan for a couple of years. With cancellation fees and all, they're less likely to bail out for the shiny new iPhone or Palm Pre, which is expected to launch soon. And don't forget that lineup of Motorola Android phones expected out for the holiday season.
RIM has long been a leader in smartphones - they were the first and, in the enterprise, they've been mainstream for a long time. Bottom line: they had a headstart in this smartphone game. With the competition about to heat up again and the enterprise market still singing the the economy blues, RIM had to turn to the consumer to gain some ground.
It was probably a good time for them to press that turbo boost button and shoot farther ahead to take a healthier lead. The road ahead is uncertain for RIM and it's not just the launch of the Pre and a new iPhone that the company should be thinking about. Want to look at the flip side of this NPD report? How about the cannibalization of the enterprise business?
Last week, I chimed in about an analyst's report that said RIM was solid in the long-term because of the pent-up demand for replacements in the enterprise when the economy starts to recover. I argued that the Bring Your Own factor could have an impact on that "pent-up demand" if companies don't need to replace devices for employees who prefer to use their own. Thanks to the consumer 2-for-1 promo, there are a lot more Blackberrys in the hands of people who otherwise might have been issued on by their employers. Now, the boss is off the hook.
That's just one thing that RIM execs are dealing with. Other points to ponder:
- Can version 2 of the Blackberry Storm go head-to-head with the newest iPhone?
- What happens if Verizon and Apple team up and launch an iPhone? [video]
- Will the Palm Pre, which received a lot of buzz at CES, have a big impact on the overall market?
- And what about Motorola's new smartphones built on Google's Android OS?