Windows Knocks BlackBerry Down A Spot

By Stephanie Blanchard, Digital Editor — May 19, 2013

A commercial for the new Nokia Lumia 920 depicts a wedding that erupts in a brawl as two groups of guests battle over their favorite smartphones. One half of those in attendance are Apple users, the other insists on Android. The tagline for the Windows phone is: “Don’t Fight. Switch.”

Whether someone is paying attention to that advice remains to be seen. Market Strategies International recently surveyed smartphone users and found that 80% of Apple’s and 60% of Samsung’s customers say they will stay loyal.

Other manufacturers such as HTC, LG and Motorola, however, aren’t in the same boat — less than half of their users plan on sticking with the same brand. Paul Donagher, senior vice president, Communications Division, Market Strategies International, noted in an interview with Mobile Enterprise that these manufacturers have their “work cut out for them.”

What about BlackBerry? Once the third place smartphone, BlackBerry has now been eclipsed by Windows, according to IDC. While Android and iOS remain the lion’s share of all shipments — 92.3% in Q1 — Windows had the “largest year over year gain” — more than doubling its size from a year ago. That is primarily thanks to Nokia, which, with 20.3 million units total (since it started shipping), accounts for 79% of all Windows Phones.

While Windows saw 7 million units shipped first quarter, for 3.2% of the market, BlackBerry had 6.3 million units, or 2.9%, despite the release of the long-awaited Z10. What happened? Was it a decrease in consumer interest? Both Windows and BlackBerry are heavily associated with the enterprise, so is it possible that business is going somewhere else?

Microsoft did not return inquiries as to which companies may have large scale deployments scheduled. BlackBerry, on the other hand, just announced that the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the largest in the nation, is issuing BB10. This follows several companies that have publicly acknowledged BB deployments including Ricoh Canada, Torys LLP and Canadian Tire Corporation. Clifford Chance, an international law firm based in the U.K., also plans on issuing 1,600 Z10 and Q10 smartphones starting this summer.

Not so long ago, actually as recently as BlackBerry Live, there was a collective snicker in the audience at the thought of Windows phones being supported by BES 10, presumably because no one was using the devices. When asked by Reuters why the update (10.1) will not support Windows devices, Jeff Holleran, senior director, enterprise product management replied, “Our focus has been in the same direction as our corporate customers. They have come to us asking for support of iOS and Android. As the market grows and our customers look to do other things, we will add additional platforms when it makes sense to do so.”

Loyal to the Brand
BlackBerry has said time and again that its core base will continue to stick with the company. Donagher agrees, calling it “vital” actually, for the company to remain viable. To grow its business though, BlackBerry has to gain back the users they lost to Apple and Android, each of which provides “non-business functionality.”

The two reasons users stick with the smartphones they have are because of feature functionality and how easy it is to use, he said, with the former being the most important reason. BlackBerry, therefore, must prove to the marketplace that it is both a personal and business device. “When you think of BlackBerry, you think email and security,” he said. “The consumer has to be convinced. People don’t see their devices as just a business device anymore, and this has been going on for a number of years.”

In any event, regardless of what either BlackBerry or Microsoft manage to do, the two massive players in the mobile game, Samsung and Apple, are likely to continue to dominate, for several years to come. Something big would have to happen in the device space to change that, he said. Making an analogy to the wireless providers, he pointed out that Verizon and AT&T have consistently been at the top. T-Mobile though, with its recent “uncarrier” initiatives, is trying to alter the parameters and shake the market up.


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