It RIM (Research in Motion) had a nightmare it would look something like this headline. In truth, the Canada-based technology developer must have seen a decline coming. After the riots in London last year left them holding the bag and facing demands from the British government to turn over customer information (BlackBerry users were blamed for inciting incidents via smartphone telecommunications), not to mention global blackouts and the major delays on the launch of their next-gen lineup of phones, RIM is struggling to stay afloat, and the economy certainly hasn’t been terribly obliging. In fact, it is estimated that the company has seen a 20% decrease in shipments during the first quarter of 2012. And it appears that Samsung and Apple are more than happy to pick up the slack.
Of course, it’s not all bad. Nokia is faring even worse than RIM, seeing a shipping dip of approximately double what RIM has experienced (a whopping 40% less shipments of product). In an interesting twist, this actually puts RIM in position to realize at least one major success: they have finally surpassed Nokia, shipping 11.9 million units worldwide in comparison to Nokia’s 11.1 million (in Q1 of this year). And with RIM’s BlackBerry 10 rumored to be on the slate for launch later this year (October is the current release date being speculated by pundits), they may leave Nokia in the dust, especially since the recent switch from Symbian to Microsoft’s mobile OS has left them playing a losing game of catch up.
But of course, the real story this year is Samsung. The tech developer has engineered market dominance, shipping an incredible 43 million units in the first quarter of 2012, followed by Apple’s still remarkable 35 million units (unsurprisingly, Sony trailed all four companies, shipping an underwhelming 7 million units for their mobile division). And together, Samsung and Apple cornered the market for mobile devices, accounting for 55% of products shipped across the globe in the first quarter and capturing an astonishing 90% of profits. And the trend doesn’t look to change any time soon.
Despite the fact that RIM is set to launch the BB10 platform later this year, you won’t see either Samsung or Apple sweating. The latter will almost certainly see massive sales when the long-awaited iPhone 5 finally launches (if it doesn’t happen this year their loyal customers are likely to riot). And their recent deal with a slew of automakers to let Siri interface with automotive voice command systems will probably make their products even more popular. As for Samsung, they have the release of the Galaxy S3 this year to keep their sales figures high (not to mention branded peripherals like docks, adapters, cables, and of course, a snappy Samsung Galaxy S3 case).
And the fact that they’re launching before Apple is further good news as they will get a jump on sales for the rest of the year (they’ll beat out BlackBerry’s rumored release date, as well). Their S3 has already become the hottest new mobile device in Britain (surpassing the iPhone as the “most popular” smartphone), and it continues to fare well in other countries of launch throughout Europe and other parts of the world, which bodes well for upcoming U.S. sales. In short, it seems as though Samsung and Apple have cornered the current market for mobile devices. But Samsung is the clear Cinderella story so far this year.
Thanks to Evan Fischer for this guest post. He is a freelance writer and part-time student at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.