RIM OS 6 Launch- Stakes Increasing

RIM (Research In Motion makers of the BlackBerry line of phones) has really rode the Smartphone craze to massive sales despite having an OS that has seemed antiquated compared to Android and the iPhone OS, and from a hardware standpoint failing to launch a successful touchphone (there’s no evidence that  Storms are selling). Part of RIM’s current success has been selling cheaper email focused smartphones (Curves and Pearls). The average price of RIM’s phones continue to decline (under $300 before carrier subsidy, the iPhone is $599) meanwhile RIM has no presence in the extreme battle occurring at the $199 price point between elite Android phones and the iPhone 4.

Well if a recent marketing survey of buying habits actually bears some fruit, RIM might be looking at the start of a dangerous decline.

The survey in question is from Change Wave Research (posted on iTechMax ) on future smartphone buyers.

Now while it’s great news for Apple,  and no real movement for Android overall (although not all Android manufacturers are in this survey, so that’s an issue. MoD would like to compare against an OS specific survey if such a survey exists. HTC also makes Windows Mobile devices but really most of that number is probably Android devices). The major drop is in future RIM buyers, and of course Palm is dropping off the map completely. In addition, RIM does not have quality/satisfaction number that’s going to help them in the future. From the same survey, here is satisfaction ratings by hardware vendor.

RIM is firmly entrenched in the middle of the pack along with Android guys (HTC, Moto, LG). So there’s apparently no relief due to brand loyalty driven by current satisfaction.

Now, RIM has a new OS version almost ready for release. It’s improved graphically and brings to the BlackBerry phones features that Apple and Android have had for years (media players, improved browsers, social networking applications) to go along with their established enterprise feature set (although it can be argued that iPhone 4.0 OS has eliminated that enterprise feature edge). These new RIM phones with the new OS really need to be a hit. Can these phones compete in the $199 price range of the iPhone 4.0/Droid 2/HTC EVO 4G? A quick glance at Bestbuy.com shows phones below $79 dominating the RIM lineup.

If you think that this price difference in Phone is not impacting RIM and Nokia as well who are 1/2 in worldwide smartphone market share, check out this chart of revenues by company which highlights how the $599 iPhone is creating massive cash for Apple.

Apple is projected to have 66% of the entire smartphone revenue number off just 4% of total handset market share. RIM and Nokia both have dominant market shares in handsets, but they are losing revenue to Apple and the premium handset market.

RIM badly needs their OS 6 projects to reverse their pricing trend and reclaim their share of the premium smartphone space.

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