Yesterday, Apple launched the iPhone 5, which is the 6th iPhone launched since the first iPhone launched 2007. Apple, an innovator without a doubt changed the landscape of the smartphone industry 5 years ago when they launched their first iPhone device to compete in the smartphone market segment which BlackBerry was an undisputed dominant player in at the time. With the launch of their latest device, we have to think how this will affect the rapidly declining market share of BlackBerry and the eventual launch of BlackBerry 10 (which is expected to launch in Q1 2013).
Before I digress into the BlackBerry side of the story, let me be clear in saying the iPhone 5 will sell and will continue to be a force in the smartphone sector, this is an undisputed fact, however, the iPhone 5 is no longer the leader within the smartphone industry in terms of market leadership and innovation.
In the last few years, it has been commonly said that there was an iPhone market and a smartphone market (everyone else). With the progression of smartphone devices and the improvements of the various operating systems, noticeably Android who is leading the way with Samsung Galaxy S3 device (which sold more than 20 million units in August alone - about 1/2 of the number of BlackBerry devices sold last year) the gap between the two markets have been shrinking and Android is now the undisputed leader in terms of the smartphone industry. With regards to BlackBerry, the last flag ship device (Bold 9900) was launched over a year ago and with Q2 2013 Earnings Call coming up at the end of this month, we can surely expect more bad news in terms of declining market share, revenue and sales due to the dated BlackBerry portfolio which will continue to hurt RIM's bottom line.
Many within the mobile industry had hoped that the iPhone 5 would be a game changer and an vast improvement upon the existing iPhone device, however, Apple has instead taken a different direction and decided to make small improvements on their existing iPhone 4S device. Ironically this move is similar to one RIM has been taking with the current BlackBerry portfolio making gradual improvements for BlackBerry 5 devices to the currently smartphone portfolio it is offering. Unfortunately, in RIM's case the market has not reciprocated too kindly to these small changes.
So far the picture is quick grim for RIM, but hold on it gets better... It is now time for RIM to shine.
As I said earlier, there used to be an iPhone market and a smartphone market, now there is just a smartphone market with no firm undisputed stronghold leader. Although the Samsung Galaxy S3 is currently a leader in the smartphone segment, the Samsung S3 is still not a household name, that title still belongs to the iPhone brand, this is where BlackBerry can step in and make a difference.
Thorsten has said repeatedly that he wants BlackBerry 10 to be a game changer within the smartphone market, and we hope it will be just that. With some of the prototypes of the devices and OS we've seen, we do believe BlackBerry can regain its spot as the King of the smartphone market.
The BlackBerry 10 launch is still a few months away and if the initial reactions to the launch of the latest iPhone continues to hold, we can expect consumers hype over the device to slow down as consumers look to alternate choices within the smartphone market. This process is not one that will happen overnight and we can surely expect all the various smartphone manufactures are aware of this strong market demand to now fight over as the household brand for the smartphone market. With the BlackBerry 10 launch coming up in the new year, consumers who have been using the iPhone for years may not want another iPhone device but something that is fresh, innovative, and new. We hope the marketing folks at RIM are listening because they need to make BlackBerry 10 fill this gap through branding and marketing BlackBerry 10 to be the fresh, new innovative phone-to-have in 2013.
Yesterday at the Canadian Wireless Trade Show in Toronto, many people came up to BlackBerryOS member Twistmymind and I and asked us if RIM will make it and how we think BlackBerry 10 will do. A lot of people still care about BlackBerry and want to believe that RIM can succeed in making the next most innovative device. RIM needs to take advantage of Apple's mediocre improvement with the latest iPhone 5 and change the smartphone industry by making the most noise launching the most innovative smartphone product in 2013 during this slowdown of innovation by Apple.
With some of the sneak peaks RIM has been giving us, I believe if RIM can fill this gap, but the execution has to be perfect. Until then we will have to be patient to wait and see (and save up money) because I heard BlackBerry 10's going to be amazing.