Anybody remember Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM)? That's the Canadian firm that makes Blackberries—those handsets that used to be cool because you could use them to send email, but now seem about as archaic as the Palm Pilot.
RIM has been steadily losing relevance and market share over the past few years as iPhone mania and the rise of the Android operating system have taken hold of the smartphone market. But RIM is not dead yet.
According to market research firm IHS iSuppli, RIM's pending introduction of the Blackberry 10 handset represents RIM's final charge in its struggle to become a viable third smartphone brand behind market leaders Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. IHS said it could also be the final chance for the Blackberry operating system to become a viable No. 3 behind Apple's iOS and Google Inc.'s Android.
"This year we will see multiple attempts to fight the Samsung/Apple smartphone duopoly in smartphone hardware—along with the twin Google/Apple duopoly in smartphone operating systems,” said Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst at IHS, in a statement. “Because of the fast-rising adoption of smartphones, 2013 represents the last, best hope for RIM's BlackBerry 10—along with endangered specimens like Microsoft's Windows Phone, Nokia's Lumia and Mozilla's Firefox—to create a viable third smartphone competitor in the market."
Together, Samsung and Apple accounted for close to 50 percent of global smartphone shipments in 2012, according to IHS. Android and iOS collectively held about 90 percent of the smartphone operating system market, IHS said.
At the same time, IHS said, smartphones accounted for nearly 50 percent of all mobile handset shipments last year. By 2016, the firm expects that smartphones will account for nearly 75 percent of all smartphones shipped.
“With smartphones soon to reach their maximum penetration, time is running out for RIM and other Apple/Samsung/Google competitors to stake a claim in the smartphone business,” said Wayne Lam, senior analyst for wireless communications at IHS.