iPhone's Canadian Triumph Emphasizes Need for BlackBerry 10

NEWS ANALYSIS: Apple's iPhone shipments have surpassed those of RIM's BlackBerry in Canada, the latter's home turf. That adds to RIM's need for BlackBerry 10.

Apple€™s iPhone has apparently surpassed Research In Motion€™s BlackBerry as the top smartphone in Canada, according to data assembled by Bloomberg and research firm IDC. What adds insult to injury is that RIM is based in Ontario, meaning Apple is beating the home team.

Those groups posit that, in 2011, RIM managed to ship 2.08 million BlackBerry units in Canada to Apple€™s 2.85 million units. €œBlackBerry, one of the biggest consumer brands to emerge from Canada, has enjoyed more loyalty among locals who embraced its made-in-Canada roots,€ read Bloomberg€™s March 22 report.

The tech-news media immediately made a big deal of that report, with other outlets quickly using it as a jumping-off point for their own articles and analysis. But does it matter that the iPhone has surpassed BlackBerry in Canada?

Short answer: no.

RIM€™s market share has steadily degraded over the past several quarters, even as Apple€™s iPhone and Google Android have made significant inroads into the traditional BlackBerry stronghold of the enterprise. €œRIM has been focused on the wrong assets for the past three years, competing in a consumer market against the most powerful brands in the world,€ Ted Schadler, an analyst with Forrester Research, wrote in a corporate blog posting Jan. 23. €œIt€™s not working.€

It€™s no secret that RIM is in what its executives call a €œtransitional period.€ In addition to falling market share, the company failed to attract sizable interest in its PlayBook tablet, eventually taking a $485 million pretax charge against that device€™s inventory in December 2011. Given all that, it€™s unsurprising that Apple, which has been enjoying spectacular sales as of late, would edge past RIM€”even in the latter€™s home territory.

But RIM has a plan for a comeback. Later this year, in a bid to reassert its position within the smartphone market, the company plans on releasing a line of so-called €œsuper phones€ running the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system. (Until then, RIM is relying on a product line running BlackBerry OS 7 to retain customers.)

€œI think we need to get a bit more discipline in our own processes,€ RIM€™s new CEO Thorsten Heins said in a corporate video, in one of his first public appearances after taking the role in late January. €œI want to spend more time on prototyping, on exploring, on research and development.€

Apple's overtaking RIM in Canada (at least according to Bloomberg and IDC) isn€™t surprising. But it does add to RIM€™s need for BlackBerry 10 to be a resounding, worldwide success.

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