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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 9:55:32 AM , Rating: 2
On 2nd thought lets analyze this... =)

Basically, what happened here is that phone services were down and data was up. This is 100% dependant on the carrier, not the phone or the email serivce. This data would have to be up for either BB or EAS. Your whole point is moot. If the best you can come up with is that, then you fail, because there have been several high profile BB outages where others were up. In other words, BB adds a level of potential failure. IF Phone/voice is down, then noone work. If data is down, then none work. IF data is up, BB still has potential to be down, becasue it relies on RIMM. As long as the cellular carrier has data, then EAS is running, becase it talks directly from your mail server to the internet, without anyone (RIMM) in the middle (collecting money to add nothing of value).


RE: RIM's demise from what?
By Pirks on 8/24/2011 1:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
collecting money to add nothing of value
http://www.techatplay.com/?p=482 thinks otherwise. If RIM indeed collected money for nothing and EAS was just as good as BB while being free then RIM would never get as many customers as they did.


RE: RIM's demise from what?
By retrospooty on 8/24/2011 6:09:51 PM , Rating: 2
ooooh... a link, that PROVES it.

LOL

Anyhow, RIMM, once upon a time, had a great email service that built them into a huge brand name and businesses flocked to them. It took many years after it was out for EAS to start to take hold. You know how slow IT depts are to make changes. That swing began slowly in 2005, 2006 and is in full swing today as large IT depts dump their BB service left and right in favor of a free service that has the same result. Let me spell it out for you.

EAS setup - free
Mail server > internet > mobile phone
end result - mobile mail, calendar, contacts etc.

BB setup - $20 per user per month
Mail server > BB enterprise server > internet > RIMM > mobile phone
end result - mobile mail, calendar, contacts etc.
On top of that, they are just NOW getting phones that have features that other phones/OS's had 2-3 years ago.

Simple huh? Any questions?


RE: RIM's demise from what?
By Pirks on 8/24/2011 8:24:32 PM , Rating: 2
A link that PROVES that BB solution provides better battery life and is less data traffic hungry? And you are so happy about it? Well... I guess if you are happy about that then I am happy too :) Case closed.
quote:
they are just NOW getting phones that have features that other phones/OS's had 2-3 years ago
I just realized that you know nothing about what BBM is and why it has nothing in common with email. Well, whatever. You definitely have no will to learn about it and that's fine. I'm okay to argue a little with uneducated, no problem with that. But case closed like you said, so bye :)


RE: RIM's demise from what?
By retrospooty on 8/25/2011 9:03:06 AM , Rating: 2
okeedokee... I got my Blackberry acronyms wrong... BFD, that doesnt change anything. If you are seriously putting up thier chat service as a thing that other phones didnt have 2-3 years ago then you are sadly mistaken. Chat has been around on phones for a long time. IF you are putting up BBM specifically as something that wasnt on other phones, well of course not. Its thier own chat service.

Whatever man, enjoy your phone, I am glad you like it. I have zero understanding on why you would buy it, unless your company had a BB mail server and required it, AND paid you back, but that is your choice.


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