More bad news for BlackBerry maker Research In Motion: for the first time since its introduction in 2007, Apple's iPhone is more popular than BlackBerry devices sold on RIM's home turf of Canada.
Apple shipped 2.85 million iPhones in Canada during 2011, beating RIM's 2.08 million shipments by about 770,000 handsets, according to numbers compiled by market research firm IDC and Bloomberg. The trend towards buying the iPhone over BlackBerry in Canada has been growing for some time. In 2010, the BlackBerry was more popular than the iPhone by about 500,000 device shipments, a marked change from 2008 when RIM was beating out the iPhone 5 to 1, Bloomberg says.
Shift in Loyalty
Although Canadians have, at least until recently, remained loyal to its homegrown brand, the change is not that surprising. Similar to the U.S. and Europe, Canada is an affluent country where people would be willing to spend a little extra money on the wider variety of apps available on iOS, as well as smartphones using Google's Android platform. (See also "RIM BlackBerry Smartphone Forecast: Grim, With Hope On The Horizon.")
The iPhone also continues to steadily improve its hardware, such as display resolution, device capabilities, and better cameras all wrapped in a fluid touch-first user interface. RIM's smartphone offerings, meanwhile, largely remain tied to BlackBerry devices with physical keyboards. The company has tried to offer several touchscreen devices such as the Torch 9810 and the Storm 2, but none have proved as popular as touch devices from Apple and Android handset makers such as HTC and Samsung.
Hope On The Horizon?
RIM may have lost to the iPhone in 2011, but the company's fortunes may rebound if its upcoming OS overhaul dubbed BlackBerry 10 can prove popular with users and app makers. BlackBerry 10 promises a more fluid touch interface, 3D gaming and better HTML 5 capabilities. The first phones running BlackBerry 10 are expected later in 2012.
Despite losing out in North America, RIM is still growing in other parts of the world such as the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.