RIM is clearly under the gun. But IHS said recent events have opened a window of opportunity for RIM as well as for other potential smartphone competitors.
For example, IHS said, the struggle for traction by Windows Phone is opening opportunities for another player to establish itself. Nokia shipped just 4.4 million Lumia Windows Phones in the fourth quarter and posted poor ASP figures for its Lumia line, IHS said. With the revocation of the payments previously provided by Microsoft, the outlook for Nokia is tougher than ever.
Apple shiped 48 million iPhones in the fourth quarter of 2012. More importantly, according to IHS, Apple has kept the iPhone average selling price (ASP) steady, suggesting that much rumored supply chain issues for the iPhone 5 did not adversely affect its sales.
But IHS points out that Apple has had a few stumbles of late, including the Maps app fiasco. This has created a willingness among Apple friendly consumers to try other products, opening the door for a new competitor to enter the market.
“With the smartphone market maturing and changing, smartphone challengers must adopt differentiated strategies, rather than simply mimic what Apple, Google and Samsung did in the past,” Fogg said.
RIM hopes the BlackBerry 10 will offer differentiation in the areas of user interface with one designed to juggle apps, by helping consumers and businesses have content coexisting on the same device, according to IHS. RIM also has created a new smartphone OS focused on delivering a communications experience meaningful to the user and is pursuing a content-based strategy offering songs, television and movies.
At this point, a return to relevance by RIM is hard to imagine. Any firm looking to shake up the status quo in the smartphone market and break the chokehold of Apple, Samsung and Google faces long odds. But stranger things have happened—Apple itself reversed a long downward spiral with the introduction of the iPod in 2001. And the rest is history.