iPhone v BlackBerry: Is Apple's battle with RIM won?

Does RIM's announcement that it will 'ignore' consumers mean that Apple has won the battle with the BlackBerry maker?

While Apple is celebrating news that the marketshare of iOS devices continues to grow, BlackBerry maker RIM has been responding to concerns that it has no future, following its announcement last week that it would focus on the business market at the expense of the consumer market. The company has now hit back at claims that it is set to ignore the consumer at its peril.

Last week was a bad week for BlackBerry maker RIM. First IDC research showed it was less popular than Apple's iPhone in its native land of Canada. Then, on Thursday, RIM reported a terrible financial quarter posting a net loss of $125 million and a 21 percent decline in BlackBerry sales compared to the previous quarter and announced that it will now focus its attention on the enterprise market and scale back on the consumer market. Does the news mean that Apple has won the battle with the BlackBerry maker? (More below...)

RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins announced last week that RIM will focus on enterprise customers and that the company will pare down some of the company's services offerings aimed at consumers: "We're looking at ways to scale back these activities and refocus on our integrated services offering," he said. These protected services are likely to include the popular BBM instant messaging service, and RIM's security offerings and management products.

"We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalize on our leading position in this segment. RIM was late to the BYOD movement and we saw a significant slowing down in our enterprise subscriber growth rate as a result," he announced in his first earnings call since taking over as CEO.

Some observers have noted that BYOD - the "bring your own device" trend, where workers are allowed to choose their own phones to connect to business applications - is what has made Apple so successful. Apple's strategy of focusing exclusively on the user has made the iPhone the most popular IT platform for phone.

There are concerns that if it takes its focus away from consumers, RIM will doom itself as it misses out on this consumerization trend that is currently driving the personal technology market. For instance, our sister site CIO points out, none of the business-focused tablet products have sold very well, but iPads are rolling into even secure segments like healthcare as if they are surfing on a tsunami.

However, RIM has since claimed that it doesn't intend to completely withdraw from the consumer market, and that it will address BYOD through a consumer offering. In a statement emailed to Macworld sister site Techworld, RIM SVP and managing director of global sales and regional marketing Patrick Spence stated that part of competing in the 'bring your own device' segment is to create a compelling consumer offering.

RIM has denied reports that it is withdrawing from the consumer market: "The claim that RIM has said it will withdraw from the consumer market is wholly misleading", Spence told Techworld.

RIM doesn't intend to completely withdraw from the consumer market, its strategy is to allow other hardware makers to use its BlackBerry 10 platform. During the original announcement, Heins said: "Whether it means we'll build hardware or whether we engage in other partnerships is exactly part of the strategic review."

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Karen Haslam

Macworld U.K.
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