Apple is bringing a smartphone war to RIM's home turf. Right now, the iPhone is beating BlackBerry in Canadian sales. In the meantime, Microsoft is eyeing the Chinese market.
Smartphone makers are
fighting a turf war, and in some cases the competition is taking the fight to
the other teams home field. The most visible example of this is in Canada,
where Ontario-based Research In Motion and its BlackBerry device are losing
ground to Apples iPhone, according to a March 21 analysis by Bloomberg
For the first time, in 2011,
Apples iPhone outsold RIMs BlackBerry in Canada, where RIM had built up a
loyal, homegrown following. In fact, BlackBerry sales fell 23 percent during
RIM's 2011 third quarter, compared with a year ago. In the United States, sales
fell 45 percent.
"[RIM] got so good at
innovation they just expected the product to sell itself," Alfred DuPuy
with Interbrand, a brand management company, told Bloomberg, in part explaining
the fall of a brand once widely considered the smartphone gold standard by
Apple's rise, meanwhile, has
been attributed to its enormous application ecosystem, good looks and
user-friendly features. During the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple shipped 37
million smartphones, according to research firm IDC, compared with Samsung's 36
million, Nokia's 19.6 million and RIM's 13 million units.
Still, RIM's lower prices
it a favorite in the select regions
, particularly Latin America, the Middle
East and Africa. Bloomberg notes that in Saudi Arabia, young adults favor RIM
handsets because BlackBerry Messenger is an easy way for users of different
sexes to communicatea thing forbidden by local religious police.
(Saudi authorities, however,
have been less
keen on the device
, believing its secure messaging service is an undue
asset for criminals.)
Pricing is another reason
that RIM beats out Apple in some markets, as in Latin America, for example,
carriers generally don't subsidize devices, leaving the iPhone a markedly more
Price is also cited as a
reason Apple may lose notable market share in Chinanot to RIM but to
IDC expects device shipments
to China to rise by 52 percent this year, for a total of 137 million units,
besting the No. 1 U.S. market for the first time.
Simon Leung, Microsoft's CEO
for the Greater China region, told reporters in Beijing March 21, according to
, that on Microsoft's way to overtaking Google's Android,
passing Apple is an "interim goal."
"We will continue to
drive the price down," Leung continued. "Our goal is [to be] No. 1.
Having a goal to be No. 2 is not really a goal."
According to the report,
Microsoft plans to work with partners, such as Nokia, to release devices priced
as low as $158.
At the March 21 Beijing
event, HTC, another Microsoft partner, announced that its first Windows Phone
in China had gone on sale. (Underscoring how mixing across cultures is not an
effortless ordeal, English-speaking audiences have dubbed the phone the Eternity,
its internal code name, though the Taiwan-based HTC says the name more
precisely translates to "triumph" or "victory.")
The phone features a
4.7-inch display, front and rear cameras and, according to the Windows
, "comes stocked with a slew of popular Chinese
apps." It added that it's the "first of many great Windows Phone
handsets headed for China ... this year," though it didn't note the price.
Offering a variety of
Android-running devices has been a key strategy of HTC, Samsung and other phone
makers, working to appeal to U.S. consumers. Wooing Chinese consumers,
manufacturers are expected to take a similar tack with Windows Phone handsets.
Teck-Zhung Wong, a
Beijing-based IDC analyst told Bloomberg, "That alone, as opposed to what
Apple is doing, will give Windows Phone an advantage."