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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

RIM\'s Market Share Slips Some More

Shortly after some stock analysts raised their ratings for Research in Motion, a new market share report showing that the company's once iconic BlackBerry brand now holds just 1.6 percent of the American smartphone market sank expectations for the company.

A year ago during the same quarter leading up to the end of October, the Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report estimated BlackBerry's share at 8.5 percent.

Just as surprising as the extent of RIM's collapse in the United States was the report's finding that BlackBerry was rapidly retreating in European countries where buyers previously had remained loyal to the brand.

In Britain, once RIM's largest market outside North America, BlackBerry's market share plummeted to 7.9 percent from 19 percent. In economically troubled Spain, BlackBerry went to just 3.4 percent of the market from 23.7 percent.

RIM's shares closed at $10.72 on Nasdaq on Tuesday, down $1.26 or 10.5 percent. Late on Wednesday afternoon, they were trading at $11.07, up 35 cents or 3.3 percent.

“We understand the competitive nature of the global smartphone market and the need for innovation,” Amy McDowell, a spokeswoman for RIM, said in an e-mail. “We are confident that BlackBerry 10 will provide our customers with an exciting alternative to our competitors, and we are committed to regaining market share.”

While RIM has been boasting about BlackBerry's success in Latin America, the report shows that the thrill is gone in Brazil. It estimates BlackBerry's market share there at 2.7 percent, down from 8.7 percent.

The only good news from the report by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, which is owned by WPP, the advertising, public relations and market research company, came from Germany. That, coincidentally, is the birthplace of Thorsten Heins, RIM's president and chief executive. There BlackBerry accounted for 2.5 percent, up from 1.6 percent.

Germany was also an exception in that it was the only market covered by the report where Apple's share declined despite the release of the iPhone 5. It fell to 17 percent from 22.1 percent.

By contrast, in the United States, all iPhone models accounted for 48.1 percent of the market, more than doubling last year's 22.4 percent share. Some of Apple's gain there came at RIM's expense. The report found that 6 percent of  those who bought an iPhone 5 during the period were BlackBerry owners.

Overall, however, phones based on Google's Android operating system proved to be the most popular alternative for disgruntled BlackBerry owners. Of those who switched phone brands in the United States in the last six months, Kantar Worldpanel ComTech found that 63.4 percent went with an Android handset.

The study's researchers found that many buyers were attracted by the new iPhone's larger screen, as well as its ability to use faster wireless networks known as 4G or LTE.

Mr. Heins has acknowledged that RIM would produce “challenging” numbers until it begins selling its new BlackBerry 10 phones and operating system next year. It features a screen similar in size to that of the iPhone 5, and it will be compatible with high-speed wireless networks.

Expectations that RIM will meet its planned release date of Jan. 30, as well as positive comments from wireless carriers now testing the BlackBerry 10, led to the analysts' upgrades of their share target prices.