updated 09:00 am EDT, Thu March 22, 2012
iPhone overcomes BlackBerry Canadian bias
A hybrid of new data collected by both IDC and Bloomberg has shown that the BlackBerry is no longer the top-selling smartphone in Canada. Despite a home zone advantage, RIM was outsold in all of 2011, at 2.85 million iPhones to 2.08 million BlackBerrys. The result was a stark reversal of 2010, when RIM had shipped about 500,000 more smartphones; RIM had been shipping five times as many phones in 2008, when the iPhone 3G was just new to the country.
For RIM's fiscal third quarter, sales had dipped 23 percent.
Factors behind the change of fortunes specific to Canada weren't clear, although some of it may have been Apple returning to or adding elements that are popular for BlackBerry users. Last year saw the return of the white iPhone, countering RIM's tendency to ship white versions of most of its own phones. Although it only showed in October, iOS 5's iMessage not only matched many of BlackBerry Messenger features but beat it by working on tablets and MP3 players like the iPad and iPod; the BlackBerry PlayBook's 2.0 update still doesn't support BBM.
More broadly, RIM has been accused of being too slow to recognize the threat that the iPhone, and to a lesser extent Android, might pose to its business. Along with insisting that corporate deals and hardware keyboards would keep its business safe, RIM is even believed to have thought the iPhone technically impossible when it first appeared. RIM would eventually come to accept touchscreens, but its late approach to implementing a new OS means it won't have a truly touch-native phone OS until late this year.
Some hope has come through RIM co-founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis leaving as co-CEOs in favor of Thorsten Heins. Some have attributed the company's fortunes of recent years to their reluctance to adapt and over-optimism for how well RIM could recover without a fundamental change to its devices.