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Former friends, turned bitter rivals, Google and Apple now own a virtually duopoly on the U.S. smart phone market.  (Source: Flickr)

RIM appears to be fading fast with the BlackBerry smart phone brand dropping over half its U.S. market share over the last year. RIM is rumored to be considering pushing a new OS -- QNX -- to its smart phones in a bid to revitalize them.  (Source: Smart Phone Mag.)

Nokia and Microsoft are looking to Windows Phone 7.1 "Mango" to revitalize their smart phone sales.  (Source: Engadget)

HP courteously recused itself from the market, to webOS fans' chagrin. The departure leaves Microsoft, RIM, Apple, and Google as the only remaining major OS makers.  (Source: Mobile Knots)

  (Source: NPD Group)
Google solidifies its lead, Apple remains close behind

When it comes to veteran market research firm NPD Group, Inc., the latest report [press release] on smartphones is more good news for two major players and more very bad news for a third.

I. Google and Apple's Gains are RIM, Microsoft's Losses

For Google, Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL) the news is happy.  Google rose from a 33 percent market share in Q2 2010 to a 52 percent market share in Q2 2011 -- a 57.6 percent increase in market share which came despite its legal troubles [1][2][3][4][5].  Apple, resigned for now to play second fiddle to Google grew from 22 percent to 29 percent -- a 31.8 percent increase in market share.

The bad news came for Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion (TSE:RIM) who saw its U.S. market share drop from 28 percent to 11 percent -- a 60.7 percent decline.  In the last year the phone maker has lost nearly half its stock value as well.  

RIM appears to be fading fast.  Things look increasingly bleak for the company, which is rumored to be preparing to push its new operating system -- QNX -- into the smartphone market in a desperate revitalization bid.  It's easy to draw analogies between RIM of today and Palm, Inc. at the start of the webOS era -- beloved by some loyal customers, but increasingly scorned by the masses.  The similarities run deep in that both companies followed the largely defunct first-party OS model, a sluggish pace of handset releases, and inferior hardware.

The study also showed troublesome signs for Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).  Windows Mobile held approximately 10 percent of the U.S. market last year.  But by this year its successor, Windows Phone 7, had only accrued approximately 1 percent of the market, while Windows Mobile hung on to 4 percent of the market.  In other words, Microsoft saw its cumulative market share halved.

However, unlike RIM, Microsoft has deep pockets to try to revitalize its sales.  And with the upcoming launch of WP7's first major OS and hardware refresh, Mango, which seems to have strong support from a number of top third party handset makers, Microsoft looks poised to turn the corner and become a viable third place competitor.

II. Motorola Dips, Faces Puzzling Outlook

In terms of individual phone manufacturers, the biggest loser was recent Google purchase Motorola Mobility, Inc. (MMI).  Motorola saw its total market share drop from 15 percent to 12 percent, and its share of the Android handset market drop from 44 percent to 22 percent.

It saw its market share gobbled up by Android rivals LG Electronics (SEO:066570) and Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (SEO:005930).

NPD analyst Ross Rubin was enthusiastic about Google's acquisition, though, which he says is beneficial to Android as a whole.  He comments, "Google's acquisition of Motorola shifts the balance of power in the handset-patent conflict between Google and its operating system competitors. Android's momentum has made for a large pie that is attractive to Motorola’s Android rivals, even if they must compete with their operating system developer."

He adds, "Much as it did in the feature phone market in the RAZR era, Motorola is experiencing increased competition from Samsung and LG in the smartphone market. Closer ties to the heart of Android can help inspire new paths to differentiation."

Of course, the Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility appears to have been primarily motivated from an intellectual property standpoint, so it remains unclear whether it will give choose to give unique advantages to its first party feature phones at its third-party partners' expense.

III. What Will the Market Look Like Next Year?

Overall there's still a great deal of uncertainty in the market.  Hewlett-Packard Company (HPQ) did refine the picture a bit, but voluntarily removing itself (and the ex-Palm webOS unit) from the smart phone market.  

Looking ahead, though, it remains to be seen whether RIM will find a way to revitalize itself or will become an acquisition target for one of the more successful or deeper-pocketed phone makers.  Don't be surprised if RIM has dropped even further in market share next year -- or has thrown its weight behind Android or Windows Phone 7.

But the biggest two outstanding questions are how Mango will be received and what will be the outcome of the Apple-Android legal war.  The outcome of those two factors should play a critical role in determining what the market looks like next August, when we sit back and look at the results of Q2 2012.

In the wild card category Intel Corp. (INTC) still has high hopes for Meego and Mozilla is cooking up a smartphone operating system of its own.  Don't get your hopes up that either of these projects will have generated even enough market share to earn a blip on next year's report, though.

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RE: RIM's demise from what?
By retrospooty on 8/24/2011 7:58:33 AM , Rating: 2
Typical Pirks... When confronted, avoid, evade and distract.

"BBM, BIS and BES weren't on the other phones 3 years ago, so you're lying here."

1. I never said that the other phones had BB services, what I implied is that BB services are obsoleted by EAS and EAS is free at that
2. Do you really want to compare battery life on all phones? EAS is not a problem.
3. You never answered the issue with BB service costing $20 per month while EAS is free.
4. To your other post about BB being more reliable. There have been sevearl high profile BB outages where BB was out and all other were offline. IF you want to Cherry pick data, so can I.
5. Again, you never responded to what the brand new late 2011 model Blackberries have that iphone, android and even WebOS all had 2-3 years ago. Answer = NOTHING! (other than the obsolete BB service which is NOT a positive, its a negative)

RE: RIM's demise from what?
By Pirks on 8/24/2011 12:55:37 PM , Rating: 2
EAS is not a problem thinks otherwise
You never answered the issue with BB service costing $20 per month while EAS is free
You never answered the issue with BB service being more data traffic and battery life saving than EAS.
what the brand new late 2011 model Blackberries have that iphone, android and even WebOS all had 2-3 years ago. Answer = NOTHING
Show me BBM in a phone 3 years ago, or else you're a liar.
obsolete BB service which is NOT a positive, its a negative
If BBM is negative, why Apple ripped it off recently into their own BBM-like iMessage service?
BB services are obsoleted by EAS and EAS is free at that
Hehe, EAS is free for a reason - free products are lousy ones, and paid are better, such is the case with battery and data efficiency of non-free BB services.

RE: RIM's demise from what?
By retrospooty on 8/24/2011 6:01:14 PM , Rating: 2
my god man, you are either clueless, or just totally unwilling to admit you are wrong.

Thank you for not listening, reading, or comprehending a damn thing. Yes, I must be a liar for TWICE not saying anything at all what you say I said.

1. 89% of the smartphones sold in the world today use EAS and dont have battery issues.

2. Again (again) I didnt say BBM was in competing phones. I said its obsolete.Corporate/Exchange EMAIL, has been available for phones via EAS since Exchange 2003 came out, thus obsoleting BB serice.

3. EAS is not "free" per say, its part of exchange which is already quite expensive for the user CAL's etc etc. You just dont have to pay extra for it like you do for BB ... This makes BBM a negative... cow, milk, free etc, remember?

But thank you for proving how clueless you are. Its now clear that you are more interested in not being proven wrong than you are in facts or even openmindedness. Also, I know you have to have the last word so go for it , its yours.

RE: RIM's demise from what?
By Pirks on 8/24/2011 8:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah of course if they have not as good battery life as BB phones they "don't have issues", is that right?

I see you don't even know what BBM is if you compare it to email. This is pretty dumb you know, to compare chat service to email :)))

"This is from the It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh

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