Wednesday, June 13, 2007

What Does RIM Think of the iPhone?

I attended the Canadian Telecom Summit yesterday, and, during the Q&A after his keynote address, Research in Motion (RIM) Co-CEO John Balsillie was asked the dreaded question: what do you think about the iPhone, and are you worried that its “revolutionary” new interface will resonate better with consumers than RIMs? Balsillie’s ballsy answer? “Apple is just one more entrant into this huge market.”

Balsillie feels pretty confident about the Blackberry's approx. 55-60% market share, and rightfully so. He even mused that the iconic device has not only made him look forward to red lights and longer bathroom breaks, but has also “liberated people from boring meetings”.

I have to agree with him: with respect to his confidence in RIMs grasp on the market, that is, not the red lights and bathroom breaks. The Blackberry has become such a universal term (just like the iPod!) that it would be tough to penetrate the kind of hold it has achieved on the market, whether you're Apple, Nokia, or any player in the arena, for that matter. In his introductory speech, KPMG’s Peter Doyle mused that running a “Google” search for the word “blackberry”, will generate 48,700,000 responses, none of which have to do with the fruit for which the word was previously known. He also informed the audience that, in 2006, the Webster’s dictionary named “crackberry” as the word of the year. How do you like them…blackberries? It’s a success story unlike any other, short of Apple’s own iPod. Ironically, Apple will now find itself on the other side of the coin, fighting for market share in an area for which it has never been associated.

It was refreshing to hear Balsillie’s response to the inevitable iPhone question. He was confident, but not cocky. In fact, he actually went on to praise Apple for recognizing a music player as a software application on a phone, and not just as a standalone device.

Balsillie did admit that wireless is a tough business to penetrate, and noted that, no matter how funky an interface, what really matters is what you can actually do with a device. He’s certainly got that right. As the old adage goes, it’s what’s inside that counts. Both the Blackberry and iPhone pack a lot of punch, so let’s see how this race develops.

Apple’s iPhone will hit the U.S. market on June 29.


Maria Cizmarik said...

I don't know much about what the iPhone has to offer, but I just can't see it be more successful than Blackberry...I associate Apple with music or computers, but not with phones...well, I guess we'll just have to see.

Lee_D said...

Regardless of how well iPhone 1.0 sells, I've been saying all along that it's a game-changer. Even if it doesn't work well, we're going to see the handheld market shift to more and more powerful, truly personal, computers.

Anonymous said...

To assess the impact of the iPhone, one should look at the target audience -- for the longest time it was only the corporate executives that strolled Wall/Bay Street with a BlackBerry at their ears -- just recently we witnessed a change with the Pearl. I don't believe that iPhone will ever compete within the corporate arena -- but it will become a crowd favorite in the other domains.

Marketnews - Christine Persaud said...

hi anonymous,

I totally agree with you there ; that if they iPhone DOES manage to overcome in any area, it will be with the regular consumers and NOT the business folks. At least once a week, I hear from SOMEONE that they want the iPhone. Will it ever hit the Canadian market? Who knows. And when it does, will Canadians fork over the dough to try it? I can't wait to find out!