RIM (NSDQ: RIMM) is taking a beating at the moment from handset makers like Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Samsung, which have eaten into a smartphone market share that it took years for the BlackBerry maker to build on both sides of the Atlantic. RIM, however, claims that it is still the company to beat in one of its key markets, the UK — although its lead is narrowing.
The news comes amid a report in the New York Times, based on statistics from Forrester, that indicate that while Apple is hurting RIM most in North America, in Europe it is Samsung that is the Canadian company’s bete noir.
According to figures out today from research firm GfK, BlackBerry has managed to hold on to its title as the best-selling smartphone brand in the UK market for the second year running. It took 26.3 percent of all sales in December and averaged 27.7 percent of all sales in 2011.
That must be some relief to the company, but is still lower than figures that GfK released at the same time last year for 2010. That year, RIM’s BlackBerry devices took 28.2 percent of all smartphone sales for 2010, and did significantly better during the crucial holiday shopping season, taking 36 percent of all sales during the month of December. In 2011, the iPhone 4S by all accounts made a big splash in terms of sales for the month of December, which would have most definitely dampened RIM’s sales.
GfK’s figures also appear to run contrary to others released by WPP’s Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, which found that, in fact, it was Android that took the lion’s share of sales in the UK market in the final quarter of 2011. It claimed that RIM took only 16.1 percent of sales in the UK for the 12 weeks that ended December 26 — a decline of 7.3 percent — while Android took just under 44 percent of sales, growth of 8.4 percent. Apple’s share grew the most, by 12 percent, to end at 34 percent of all sales.
RIM in a statement today said that its global subscriber base grew by 35 percent in December, and now stands at 75 million, with 8.5 million of them in the UK.
We have reached out to GfK to ask how RIM’s sales in the UK compared with the rest of Europe, and to see if it can shed a bit more light on why its numbers vary so much from those of Kantar’s.
Perhaps most damaging to RIM is that while its share in consumer purchases appears to be eroding, so too is its enterprise share. Forrester says that in a survey of enterprise users RIM (at 26 percent) is nearly level with Android (27 percent) and iOS (24 percent) among business users globally.
While RIM faces some delays in rolling out the newest edition of its BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, it is releasing an incremental upgrade to the existing BlackBerry 7 “in the coming months.” That will include NFC capabilities through BlackBerry Tag and the ability to make your RIM handset into a mobile hotspot.