Three BlackBerry models placed among the five best-selling consumer smartphones in the first quarter, showing that BlackBerry has shed its business-only perception to become a top choice for consumers, according to data released by The NPD Group.
Sales of the BlackBerry Curve took the top spot, putting the now-iconic Apple iPhone 3G in second place. BlackBerry also placed third with its touch-screen BlackBerry Storm and fourth with the BlackBerry Pearl. Rounding out the top five was the Google Android-based T-Mobile G1.
The sales results show that Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphone line has evolved. Over BlackBerry's 10-year-plus history, RIM has added more features and functions aimed at the consumer set: cameras, video recording, media and music players and a host of other capabilities. RIM has also started creating slicker and sleeker devices, ditching the bricklike handhelds of the past for more stylish, contemporary form factors.
And even though RIM's BlackBerry has become a shining star in the consumer segment, its business functionality has not been sacrificed. The smartphones still offer access to corporate e-mail, calendars, contacts and applications. The BlackBerry Curve's ability to beat the iPhone to take first place in consumer sales, a spot the Apple iPhone held for the last two quarters of 2008, is evidence of that.
Also pushing BlackBerry, specifically the Curve, to the top of the heap is BlackBerry's slick sales and marketing campaigns, which included an aggressive buy-one get-one free offer from Verizon Wireless.
But BlackBerry and RIM shouldn't rest on their laurels.
This spring and summer, a host of hot new smartphones are expected to hit the market aimed both at professional and consumer users. RIM has new smartphone models coming sometime this year in the BlackBerry Niagara and the BlackBerry Gemini, while Palm is set to release the long-awaited Palm Pre sometime before the first half of 2009 comes to a close.
Apple, too, is expected to get in on the smartphone showdown come spring and summer. There is wide speculation that Apple is prepping to release a new iPhone model soon, possibly as early as its Worldwide Developers Conference in June.