Don't Count Out RIM and BlackBerry In The Mobile Revolution


Research In Motion may not be gobbling up headlines like Apple, Motorola and Google Android lately, but anyone who counts out RIM and BlackBerry in the smartphone wars is making a mistake.

The BlackBerry brand is alive and well, and apparently doesn't need flashy headlines or breathless hype to keep growing.

According to IDC, RIM and BlackBerry posted huge gains in worldwide smartphone market share the third quarter -- outpacing Apple iPhones in quarterly shipments by as many as five-to-one.

In a Thursday report on global smartphone share, IDC hands the No. 2 spot in worldwide share back to RIM, which posted year-over-year grow in shipments of 35.7 percent, compared to Apple's 7.1 percent.

In units, RIM shipped about 8.2 million units in the third quarter, up from 6 million in the year ago quarter. Apple's iPhone shipments grew only from 6.9 million to 7.4 million during that same period.

Overall, manufacturers shipped about 43.3 million smartphones during the third quarter, up 4.2 percent from the third quarter a year ago, and also an increase from 41.9 million in the second quarter, according to IDC.

In their research remarks, IDC urged observers to not get too excited about RIM or BlackBerry -- RIM's quarterly earnings results are still disappointing Wall Street -- and said that Apple's penetration into the Chinese market could be a catalyst for an increase in iPhone market share worldwide.

"Apple reached its highest volume yet in a single quarter," the firm said in a statement. "The nearly global availability of the iPhone 3GS sparked another round of annual replacements for Apple loyalists, while the lower price on the iPhone 3G put the device well within reach of customers wary of the price. Although the iPhone has struggled within emerging markets, its arrival at China Unicom this year could foreshadow greater shipment volumes."

Another researcher, ChangeWave, recently put RIM's worldwide smartphone market share at 40 percent to Apple's 30 percent, but offered similar caution on RIM's prospects, thanks to Apple having gained so much share in such a comparatively short period. In its survey, ChangeWave notes that Apple has a higher percentage of planned purchasers among smartphone users ChangeWave surveyed.

Several researchers have also noted the exploding popularity of phones based on Google's Android mobile OS, not least of which is the Motorola Droid, which went on sale through Verizon Wireless on Friday.

For further reading on the smartphone marketplace, check out the following:

Ed Moltzen's Test Center analysis of the Motorola Droid

A Comparison of Droid vs. iPhone and BlackBerry

A Look At 10 Hot Android Phones

A Look at 25 Hot Smartphones and Cell Phones for the Fall Season