International Data Corp's Mobile Phone Tracker data puts Research In Motion at more than half of the smartphone marketshare for the first quarter of 2009: that 55.3 percent share compared to a 19.5 percent share for Apple's iPhones. That's a dramatic surge from two quarters earlier, when BlackBerry devices hung on to 40.4 percent and Apple had 30.1 percent, according to IDC.
"The buzz about other signature devices can make people overlook RIM's success," said Ryan Reith, a senior research analyst at IDC., to CNNMoney.com.
RIM is scheduled to report its first quarter financial results Wednesday after stocks close, and analysts are predicting a cheery day for the sometimes-beleagured BlackBerry maker. Most Wall Street estimates are forecasting a revenue spike of 53 percent and an increase of 12 percent in earnings for the quarter ended May 31. And that's even with the lukewarm-to-frosty reception for RIM's previously most recent BlackBerry, the BlackBerry Storm.
The key to BlackBerry dominance -- a recent survey by Yankee Group revealed that of 41 percent of Americans who planned to buy a smartphone for their next phone, half were planning on a BlackBerry -- is versatility. Sure, BlackBerry phones have reliable features and an entire app store, BlackBerry App World. But where iPhones and other flashy smartphones are often tethered to one wireless carrier in the United States -- iPhone is exclusively AT&T, for example -- all of the major carriers support at least one BlackBerry.
Remember that old saw "when banks compete, you win?" The same could be said of BlackBerry users: many carriers drive pricing and plans down. They're also cheaper to operate; an analyst for Research Capital Corp. reminded CNNmoney.com that RIM designs phones that are more "bandwidth-efficient" than Apple or its competitors, so BlackBerry carriers make more money.
According to RIM, BlackBerry Tour is a high-end device with a 112mm x 62mm x 14.2mm frame and weight of 130 grams. It offers e-mail, social networking platforms, a built-in HPS, a 3.2 megapixel camera, video recording capability, a video media player, Bluetooth 2.0 support, and a slew of other bells and whistles, including voice-activated dialing and a preloaded version of document viewer DataViz Documents On the Go.
The BlackBerry Tour's hook is that it's a world device, designed for CDMA networks in North America and UMTS/HSPA around the world. It'll be available on Verizon and Sprint later this summer, according to RIM.
"BlackBerry continues to be the top-selling smartphone brand in North America, and we are proud to add this powerful new 3G world phone to our successful product portfolio," RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said in a statement
While RIM is going to have to pull out all the stops to stay on top of the smartphone pile -- and that's only in North America; Nokia's market share worldwide is well above RIM's -- their resilience as a smartphone player is impressive with so many other devices grabbing at the spotlight tehse days.
And while there are now a lot of different BlackBerry devices, with no one BlackBerry calling attention to itself as the definite article, RIM's flood-the-zone approach does appear to be working.
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