Thursday, December 23, 2010

BlackBerry users consume more mobile data than iPhone users

This just came in... According to StatCounter, BlackBerry users utilized more mobile data than iPhone users for November. If this is a new trend, could it mean a small turnaround for Research In Motion? Well it's too early to tell at this point, but it could if the trend goes on for an extended period of time.

On average, RIM's BlackBerry operating system took about 34.3 percent of all mobile data traffic in the U.S. last month. Apple's iOS was right behind with a 33 percent share. Google meanwhile continues its rapid pace of growth with the Android OS gaining from 8.2 percent a year ago to about 23.8 percent in November.

During that same period, Apple's overall market share for the iPhone has dropped from almost 52 percent to just 33 percent.

“These numbers suggest that mobile app developers shouldn't be developing solely for the iPhone to the exclusion of BlackBerry and Android,” StatCounter CEO Aodhan Cullen said. And as for Microsoft's chances, he added “This data clearly demonstrates that there is a battle already going on in the smartphone market for the consumer and business Internet user. You can never underestimate Microsoft but it sure looks to have its work cut out for itself."

Last week, Research In Motion CEO Jim Balsillie said his company will price its upcoming PlayBook tablet at less than $500. However, with an entry level at $499 for Apple's very popular iPad, some are now questioning whether Balsillie’s price estimate will do enough to excite potential buyers. Chad Berndtson, a tech blogger with CRN, wrote that Balsillie’s "vague pronouncement still leaves more questions than answers, such as how the PlayBook will help win over enterprise business users in the market for a tablet device."

Then ZD-Net tech blogger Larry Dignan wasn't surprised at the news either. He wrote that any tablet that doesn’t start at $499 or less is doomed in today’s very competitive market.

"RIM seems to be positioning the PlayBook as a best-in-class option for mobile app developers and a showpiece device for lovers of Adobe Flash. But despite its platform, the PlayBook still appears to lack the connectivity options of rivals like the Samsung Tab, and given the long-awaited updates to iOS contained in Apple's 4.2 release, much of what the iPad lacked in comparative features appears to have been resolved," said Dignan.

“I’ve been pretty vocal that Android tablets need to sell at a discount, especially with 7-inch screens. RIM, which will sell the PlayBook as an enterprise device, may have more leeway on pricing, but not much,” he wrote. “After all, RIM’s PlayBook still features a tiny 7-inch screen.”

Going forward, the bigger question for Dignan is whether RIM’s use of Adobe Flash and AIR will be a success for the company.

“RIM will rely heavily on Adobe’s software to deliver apps and other platforms. Without Flash, RIM’s Playbook might as well be a baby toy.”

“The downside to this equation, however, is this: If the Flash implementation on the Playbook is botched by RIM, Adobe will take a hit. RIM has been so outspoken about the PlayBook’s ability to handle Flash that it won’t be the only one dinged if things go wrong.”

Another blogger, Stewart Meagher, also picked up on that theme. He wrote that despite the PlayBook’s near-enterprise 'pedigree', RIM still seems to be making too big of a deal over the fact that it can play Flash videos and animation, and now it probably has way too much riding on that. In the end, RIM now faces a zero-tolerance margin of error-- not a good thing when you operate in a field as risky and unpredictable as IT and mobile communications.

“We could be wrong here, but we don't think that being able to watch YouTube videos of piano-playing cats is an essential requirement in the average boardroom,” said a defiant Meagher.

Lately, RIM has had its own share of concerns and harsh press.

A few days ago, it was learned that the company has completely removed its popular chat application called Kik from all its Blackberry smartphones. Worse, RIM said it doesn't want anything to do anymore with the young company that created the software.

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