Struggles continue for Research In Motion, Ltd. (RIM), the company behind the famous BlackBerry line of smartphones.
The firm’s troubles began in earnest last year. The launch of their BlackBerry PlayBook did not go as well as the company expected. Planned software updates were repeatedly delayed. Their smartphone devices begin losing ground to sales of Apple and Android smartphones. And a worldwide outage angered many of their loyal fan base. New BlackBerry smartphones received little interest from wary shoppers. RIM’s co-CEO’s were tossed out.
A new CEO may be breathing some new life back into the company. The most obvious change so far is RIM finally got an update for the BlackBerry PlayBook out. That, along with a major price reduction, has given the tablet a second chance.
But bad news continues to come down the pike. A study completed by IDC and Bloomberg finds that RIM is losing its local base. Until last year, the Canadian based company has been able to count on the support of Canadians. But Bloomberg is reporting that RIM has fallen to number 2 in Canadian smartphone shipments. The new number 1? Apple.
BlackBerry still outsells Apple in some locations, such as the Middle East and Africa, according to Bloomberg. Last year RIM accounted for 8.3 million shipments of smartphones, compared to Apples 2.5 million, in those regions last year. In Latin America, RIM shipped 10.6 million phones, and Apple just 2.1 million.
So RIM still has some muscle – but its on the ropes with consumers here in the US. RIM’s last product launch was a keyboard for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. They will certainly need to launch something more exciting than that to get the US shopping public (and their enterprise base) enthused about BlackBerry again.
There are rumors that a prototype of a new BlackBerry 10 smartphone may be released soon, so that developers can begin building apps for it.
It may be a struggle for RIM to motivate developers to build on a new platform with no idea if there will be a large market for the device. Rumors also suggest the new device will be launched in the second half of this year.
We’ll keep our eyes and ears on this and let you know as developments happen.