Apple, RM Battle Shapes Up

Apple took 28 percent share of the fast growing U.S. converged device (smart phone) market in the fourth quarter of 2007, behind Research in Motion’s 41percent, but a long way ahead of third placed Palm at nine percent, say Canalys researchers.

Apple also finished ahead of all Windows Mobile device vendors combined, whose share was 21 percent in the quarter.

Globally, converged device shipments rose 60 percent to hit 115 million in 2007. U.S. sales doubled.

Nokia remained the global market leader, shipping 60.5 million smart phones, while RIM shipments grew 112 percent to 12.2 million.
Globally, Symbian operating system devices had 67 percent share, followed by Microsoft on 13 percent and RIM with 10 percent.

Apple claims that nearly 70 percent of all mobile Internet traffic is generated by iPhone users. Executives at Google, meanwhile, have confirmed the basis thesis: iPhone users surf the Web way beyond anything seen up to this point.

On the other hand, RIM points out that nearly two thirds of its 12 million BlackBerry subscribers in December 2007 were government or corporate customers.

The observation is that as the smart phone market continues to grow rapidly, the dynamics of the U.S. market--as distinct from the global markets--are shaping up, in part, as Apple going "up market" to enterprises and RIM going "down market" to consumers. That's not to dismiss Microsoft-powered or Nokia devices, but simply to illustrate a dynamic.

We have a market likely to take new shape as devices and users expand beyond the original base of "mobile email" addicts. The iPhone has shown there is a new class of user who uses mobile email but also surfs the Web and uses the mobile Internet in ways we haven't seen before. That's going to get designers moving in different directions as the various segments start to emerge. For some users the current iPhone or BlackBerry interfaces still will work. For others, something else might emerge.

Personally, I like the ability to swap SIMs between devices, which iPhone doesn't want me to do. I like to be able to change my own batteries, which iPhone doesn't want me to do. Small things, of course, but real barriers to me getting rid of my BlackBerry. Other choices will have to be made by music or video afficianados.

Source: Gary Kim, Editor in Chief of IP Business magazine

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