Android and iOS Look to Push RIM Out of Market

By | Apr 27, 2012

A new report on mobile device operating system market share shows just how dominant the two major operating systems, iOS and Android, have become in North America. With many businesses still using BlackBerry devices, the lack of consumer popularity for RIM's smartphones and tablets raises some questions about the feasibility of those devices going forward.

Global Smartphone Battle

InMobi, an independent mobile ad network, recently released its report on ad data for the first quarter of 2012. That report includes a fairly comprehensive look at the market share for each mobile device, broken down by operating system. Unsurprisingly, Apple and Google remain firmly at the top of the heap when it comes to OS developers, according to this PCMag article.

In North America, Apple moved up to 37 percent of the market share, while Google moved up to 33 percent. By comparison, RIM fell to 7.3 percent and Microsoft/Nokia was at a distant fourth. The numbers shift a little when looking at the global numbers, with both Nokia and Google seeing strong adoption rates overseas.

InMobi's numbers are generated from ad impressions, and since they include impressions from devices like the iPod Touch, they can certainly be considered to be a bit unbalanced. As this SplatF article details, the exact numbers change a little bit when looking at just the data from smartphones. Regardless, what isn't in dispute is the fact that iOS and Android are pushing all the other players out of the market and this could have some serious consequences for U.S. businesses.

Mobile OS and the Business Space

Midsize businesses that are entrenched in the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture, where employees are responsible for their own smartphones and tablets, may welcome the news that there are fewer OS options out there. However, security-conscious businesses that turned to RIM to provide a secure mobility option may look at these numbers and wonder if they need to quickly consider other solutions.

The numbers for RIM certainly aren't good, and after a rough couple of quarters, things won't be getting better anytime soon. The company's market share numbers may start to flatten out, but that's simply because the only people left using the devices will be businesses that are either locked in or which require the level of security that BlackBerrys can provide.

Regardless, the sky isn't falling and there's no need for anyone to jump ship if they are happy with their current solution. RIM's global numbers still show signs of life, and as long as the company continues to have options somewhere, its products and services will continue to grow and innovate. Even in the North America market, where the BlackBerry appears to be on its last legs, RIM is making strides to address the issue. Mobile Fusion, the company's mobile device management solution, doesn't quite provide BlackBerry-level security to Android and iOS devices, but its existence proves that RIM finally isn't in denial over its chances in regaining share from the two leading OSs.

Still, it's important to understand the trade-offs that will come from adopting or sticking with a BlackBerry solution. Without a strong consumer base, most app development will dry up. Even though most of these apps are pointless, every once in a while, a consumer app bursts into the business scene and BlackBerry users will have to wait months to get access to it, if they ever do at all.

RIM has certainly done a terrible job positioning itself for success over the last few years, and midsize businesses looking for a new solution will probably look elsewhere unless the tight security and encryption is of paramount importance to them, but businesses with an existing BlackBerry solution don't need to do anything drastic just yet, just keep an eye on the situation.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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