Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) has been one of the leaders in the mobile phones market with its BlackBerry smartphones. Even though Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) and RIM were two of the biggest mobile giants, along with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) , RIM has faced a major decline in recent years. With shares currently priced at $11.40, the comany has decided to make BB10 its future amid rising confidence. Both Nokia and RIM were knocked off from the top smartphone market, but it looks like both companies are getting back on the right track in 2013 with Nokia’s successful Lumia line and with the upcoming BB10 smartphones. Here is a SWOT analysis of RIM and the things that RIM shareholders should watch for in 2013.
RIM’s BlackBerry service is one of its biggest strengths, along with its email service. The BlackBerry email servers are really secure, which is one of the reasons why some countries have banned BlackBerry services. Therefore, BB10 will probably be one of the best smartphones in terms of professional and business features. Additionally, RIM’s hardware and software combination is another strength. Companies like Sony and Samsung rely on the Android OS, which can sometimes mean instability and inconsistency.
Similarly, Nokia is also relying on the Windows 8 operating system with their own hardware. RIM, like Apple, makes its own software to go with its hardware for better stability and reliability. Apple products have always been of superior quality, mainly because the hardware works well with Apple’s own software. Battery life has been a strength of BlackBerry smartphones for a long time, and if RIM can maintain a decent battery life with its touchscreen smartphones, then it could be a major strength, as Android smartphones usually don’t last long. Lastly, RIM has finally switched to full touch screens, and with all these features combined, BB10 Smartphones are likely to be in a strong position
One of the biggest weaknesses for RIM is the lack of apps support. This weakness alone can determine the success or failure of RIM. The iOS and Android app stores have nearly a million apps already, which are growing every day. Apps on the Windows mobile platform have also been growing, which is one of the reasons why Nokia is doing well at the moment. BB10, on the other hand, will have around 70000 apps on its release in late January. Consumers like apps and the variety available in the Apple Store and the Google Play Store, but RIM CEO Thorsten Heins doesn’t think that this is the case. Heins recently said that most apps on other app stores are useless. Heins aims to have around 400 useful apps after BB10’s release and claimed that not all popular apps will be available on BB10, although substitutes will be present. One of the reasons for the failure of the BlackBerry Playbook was the lack of apps, but this time around RIM looks to get this right with both the number of apps and the availability of useful apps.
Another weakness is RIM’s customer base. RIM has usually targets a niche market of corporate and government individuals who use BlackBerry smartphones. Although, RIM did get into the mass consumer market with several BlackBerry devices and millions of users still use BlackBerry smartphones as their personal devices. Also, teenagers have also been using BlackBerry smartphones because of its BlackBerry Messenger service, which is now being replaced by alternatives such as Whatsapp. RIM will introduce the video chat feature in the latest BB Messengers but we’ll have to wait and see how that works out.
Nokia, on the other hand, has targeted a mass audience with its different lines of mobile phones. After RIM’s Q4 results, Heins did say the BlackBerry’s core strength is enterprise, but also claimed that “I want to be in the mass market and I want to participate.” BlackBerry is definitely not a major player in the consumer market at the moment compared to Apple and Samsung, however, it can be after the release of BB10, as Heins is focusing on gaming and media on the new BB10 devices.
BlackBerry’s U.S market share fell significantly, but it does have a decent foreign market share that is growing as countries like Indonesia are offering low $5 plans. Nigeria, South Africa and Mexico are all heavy contributors to RIM’s revenue. Other countries such as Pakistan are also offering low contracts for the BB Messenger services. However, in terms of foreign market penetration, Apple and Android still dominate the worldwide smartphones industry. BlackBerry smartphones are still used around the world as personal devices without the BB services, and with the new and powerful BB10 touchscreen phones, sales might increase without the BlackBerry service contracts, similar to the newest Android smartphones