Tablets could offer Research-in-Motion a second act

December 9, 2010

Could tablets offer Research-in-Motion a second act? The company, whose Blackberry phones were the hottest mobile devices of the decade until the iPhone and Android phones showed up, badly needs something to revive its growth.

Just last week, ComScore said that the Blackberry’s share of the U.S. smartphone market fell to 35.8% from 39.3% while the iPhone inched up a percentage point to 24.6% and Android grew by six and a half percentage points to 23.5%. Another survey by Nielsen showed that people planning to upgrade from feature phones to smartphones prefer Android and iPhones. Only 11% of those surveyed are most interested in buying a Blackberry.

Analysts are starting to worry that the trend will be repeated in overseas markets. On Wednesday, Shaw Wu of Kaufman Bros. said he expects RIM’s stock price to erode because Android’s market share is growing as prices of Android phones come down. RIM’s stock is down 3% since Monday as investors mulled such concerns.

On Thursday, the blog Boy Genius Report showed a nine-minute video demoing the Blackberry Playbook, a new tablet from RIM. It’s still a work in progress, and the demo didn’t show how the device connects to the Internet, but it offered enough of a glimpse to suggest that the Playbook could be a strong contender in the growing market for tablets.

The Blackberry Playbook is powered by an operating system that uses technology from QNX, an Ottowa-based software company that RIM bought in April. The navigation is smooth, intuitive and in some ways superior to the iPad – allowing the user to scroll down to see all apps, or to flip sideways to see apps organized by category.

The Playbook’s multitask function makes it easier to jump between apps than the iPad does. Videos can continue to play in the background as they would on a laptop browser when another app, say email, is opened. Swiping along different borders of the tablet’s screen adds new navigation features, making it easier to call up a keyboard or minimize screens.

The iPad is likely to be the leading tablet for some time. But the tablet market is growing at the expense of laptops and netbooks, so there is room for other tablets to grow as well. Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab will have a share. And if the Blackberry Playbook delivers on this early promise, it could offer RIM a seat at the table too. And not a minute too soon.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I would love to read an article that explains how phone companies perceive consumer priorities when chosing a phone. For me personally, I am not going to switch networks to get access to a particular phone. I would rather switch to something running the Android operating system and stay on Verizon’s (what seems to me) superior network than switch to AT&T to stay with Blackberry in the form of a Torch. Does anyone have any info on the motivations for phone manufacturers to limit their markets by being exclusive on certain networks?

Posted by Upstate184 | Report as abusive

Well, in the case of Apple and the iPhone, it was that AT&T allowed Apple to run it’s own App Store and the iTunes Store, and to have Apple handle both the merchandising and the support. Otherwise, AT&T would be selling music and apps. In the case of Verizon and Motorola with the Droid. Verizon spent tons of money marketing it for them, which they wouldn’t have done without exclusivity. Neither iPhone or Android would have been able to succeed without carrier exclusivity. In the case of the Torch, AT&T probably is paying a huge subsidy for both the handsets and marketing.

Posted by ashwinkn | Report as abusive  /why-att-wants-to-keep-the-iphone-away- from-verizon/

The last paragraph answers your question.

Also, unfortunately, in modern society flashy phones and brands take precedence over superior networks/operating systems…. Zg&feature=related

Posted by charlesv | Report as abusive

RIM never understood how to deliver a great product to their customers, they delivered a product that their customers could use and businesses thought benign enough to buy. That is why they are being knocked out by Apple and Android. That being said, how in the heck do they think they can deliver a great consumer driven device such as a tablet? I highly doubt it.

Posted by anamericancynic | Report as abusive

14.2 million people this quarter (of which 5.1M new customers) and over 100M worldwide are not of your opinion;

were RIM in the wrong to “think that they can deliver a great consumer driven device”, what’s in it for you? why not let them fool themselves and crush, if you hate them so much?

Posted by sunblizzard | Report as abusive

14.2 million units is impressive, 5.1M _new_ accounts is even more impressive, with all the talk about how android will kill’em all

took a look at the Q results and the R&D expenditure was about 40% higher than a year ago; some shorters try to make people think that RIM has somehow suddenly stopped innovating :-) as if hTC or Samsung or Apple _can_ and RIM (being, ya know, canadian and a dinosaur for that) can not :-)

just curious what products they’ll introduce next !

Posted by sunblizzard | Report as abusive