BlackBerry 10: Can RIM re-ignite its business love affair?

Can RIM use its new BlackBerry software to convince businesses to fall in love with the platform all over again?

There's no denying RIM has had a tough five years, starting as top of the smartphone operating systems and finishing pretty far behind Android, iOS and, increasingly, Windows Phone.

In part, this is to do with the other platforms adapting to users' current needs and RIM at least seemingly failing to move with the times, but much of it is because RIM's target audience was, perhaps, too small in the first place.

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Rewind to 2008. Then, RIM was celebrating.

Now, BlackBerrys are seldom used in the workplace, but more suited to younger generations that use them for the free BBM messaging service.

Rewind to 2008. Then, RIM was celebrating, having just almost doubled its market share in Europe, taking it up to 19.5 per cent in Q4 2008 compared with 10.9 per cent in the same quarter of 2007, according to figures from analyst firm Gartner.

Today, however, the picture isn't so pretty. RIM's market share fell to just four per cent in Europe in December 2012, according to market insight research firm Kantar Worldpanel. Compare this to the steadily increasing volumes of competitor smartphone operating systems, including Windows Phone, which accounted for 5.9 per cent of the share marked growth from 2.2 per cent the same time a year ago.

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So what went wrong? How has RIM lost so much ground and favour with both BlackBerry software and BlackBerry models?

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The Android factor

Firstly, Google launched Android. The first devices based on this platform began to roll out in October 2008.

Android accounted for 2.8 per cent of the worldwide market share in 2009, according to figures from research firm Canalys. This shot up to 33 per cent in 2010. A huge range of devices launching in quick succession meant there was a great deal of choice for consumers and businesses alike. Android's app ecosystem also began to grow.

What's more, Apple's market share increased as people began to switch to the more seemingly flexible platform and appreciate the scope apps could have for every part of life, including in business.

"RIM is trying to cover too many bases including enterprise, consumer and tablet with too many product lines and a proprietary feel," according to Rob Bamforth, principal analyst at Quocirca.

While Apple is proprietary too, opening up the App Store helped contribute to the company's popularity. With apps that have a distinctly consumer flavour and others that are clearly strictly for business on both tablets and smartphones, Apple can and does

successfully appeal to almost everyone, Bamforth claims. RIM doesn't have as successful an app store to help extend its reach across so many platforms. Certainly not at the moment.


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