RIM's woes gives Windows Phone the chance for third

Funny how different things can be in two yearsr on the mobile front.

Early last year, Palm was still Palm, teetering under competition, but then got a life-saver by being purchased by HP. Of course that turned out to be a disaster and now Palm, webOS and that company's legacy seems to be sentenced to irrelevance. Symbian was still controlling large swaths of the market as was RIM, makers of the enterprise-friendly BlackBerry.  In fact, just two years ago, RIM was sitting in first place with a whopping 42% of the device market. Now in late 2011 in the US? Just 9% according to the latest numbers from Canalys.

Things are so bad for RIM right now that its stocks, valued at US $18.91 a share, just dropped below their book value of $18.92. Book value roughly translates to "cash, inventories, real estate and intellectual property minus its liabilities" (according to the Sydney Morning Herald). Yup, the stock is worth less than what the actual company is valued at. And even that valuation, especially in patents, may be over-stated according to some, due to their age.  RIM does supposedly have a trick up its sleeve: BBX, its new mobile platform. But all signs point to it not only being delayed but underwhelming as well, much like the PlayBook.

Microsoft was and some would say still is, in a precarious situation analogous to RIM. But Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7 just over a year ago and by all accounts, it's a critical success (that has yet to materialize into solid market share). But it also has a successful ecosystem with Windows, Office, Exchange, Xbox, Kinect  and its myriad of cloud-services. In other words, Microsoft can literally afford to lose money until the world wakes up and their mobile OS takes off. RIM? Not so much as they have no other source of income.

So in that sense, it's no surprise to hear calls for RIM to be chopped up and sold off, like a foreclosed home to the highest bidder (see CNet) There is no faith that RIM can pull itself out of this hole, catch up and over pass Microsoft, who now have spiritually become the third major mobile OS. The tone has shifted in the last few months, can you hear it? It's due mostly due to the successful launch of Windows Phone 7.5 aka "Mango"--people now mention Windows Phone in the same breath as Android and the iPhone. BlackBerry or webOS? Not at all. A year ago, we had to wave our hands to get attention from the big developers, but no longer. Remember the blitz this summer? And with Nokia and Skype on board, things are only looking better.

Sure, two years from now we could see another massive restructuring of the players involved. But we're betting Apple, Google and Microsoft will be the only three names mentioned in mobile, with RIM retired along with webOS and Symbian. From RIM's failure to successfully compete comes Microsoft's entry as the third-way. What's more, Microsoft is poised to go even further in the next few years as its "three screens and a cloud" vision becomes a reality. Here's looking at you, 2015. We can't wait.

Daniel Rubino

Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007 when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and for some reason, watches. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.

  • It's really sad how far this company has fallen. Their phones have been **** for years.
  • webOS was an even bigger critical success than WP, that didn't help sell phones. At some point WP sales have to start moving, or the OEMs will stop making them. Heres hoping both Blackberry and Symbian users will consider WP for their new mobile home.
  • I'm not sure about that. Once major sites got their hands on the Pre, the reviews were far, far from praise worthy. The OS always felt sluggish up till the Pre 3, but by then was too late. Heck, with only two devices on the market for so long, webOS never got a fair shot to really expand.webOS (and RIM) also failed completely to lure developers over, something which Microsoft has not.
  • I have to agree with Daniel, webOS may have been well received but after the original Pre their was a long period of time with absolutely no new products coming to market. Couple that with a lack of sales and the devlopers saw the writing on the wall. WP7.5 on the other hand has been well received, plenty of apps (though room to improve) plenty of hardware to choose from on multiple cariers and buzz worthy new products from Nokia on the horizon. What's not to love?
  • wow, take off your blinders, crazy. I am a new user of wp7 and quite like it, but there is no way that wp7 is mentioned and blackberry forgotten. When I tell people I have wp7, I get blank stares. Ask ANYONE if they've heard of blackberry and they will know. You speak of microsoft having a "spiritually" 3rd ranking. What is microsoft's market share? Face it, in both market and mind share, RIM is FAR superior to microsoft. RIM has dropped a crazy amount since last year, but wp7 hasn't gained a crazy amount. In the tech world people know of wp7, but no where else. I really hope it takes off because I enjoy this OS, but to think they have already surpassed RIM in anything but features is lunacy.
  • I agree. WP7 has very little mindshare. We had guests last weekend and I told a guy I had a Windows Phone and he had no clue what I was talking about, but he did ask if it had MS Office, which I found kind of interesting.
  • "RIM's woes gives Windows Phone the chance for third" is the title of the article. "Chance." WP's potential to take 3rd seems far greater than BB's potential to keep or do better than 3rd.
  • @myusernames"wp7 is mentioned and blackberry forgotten"Talking about the tech press. I even mention in the article that WP7's critical success has *not* translated into solid market share--so you're not disagreeing with me at all. But in media, the iPhone, Android and WP7 are always mentioned together. Furthermore, the press used to be dismissive or highly critical of WP7 but Mango has been very well received even by previous critics--that's what I'm talking about.As mentioned @Starblade876, the title refers to Microsoft being poised to taking third in the OS war, not that they are. They have all their pins lined up and now need to execute. RIM has no pins and are on life-support.
  • To get to third place, Microsoft have got to start selling Mango phone. Where are those phones in Canada? Bell doesn't even sell Windows Phone anymore.
  • Bell still HD7... yes 7 not 7s, that's making me madI contacted HTC and they only said it's coming... eventually, why are we always left out =..=
  • Why we all need to keep preaching the sermon folks.....Windows Phone kicks @$$ !!!Get the word out !
  • I don't see how RIM recovers. Not only are they getting crushed in the consumer market, they are getting crushed in the enterprise space. A year ago I had 900+ Blackberry devices.. Then I installed Good Mobile Messaging and we allowed Android devices a year ago, and this summer we allowed iPhones.We now have just over 300 Blackberrys. They won't recover. They may not go away, but they will never see major marketshare again.
  • I have very little doubt that the world wide market share of WP will be in the 10 by the end of 2012. That will be HUGE gains over this year. How much further Rim Drops will show how likely a third place finish for WP will be. Maybe not next year, but soon after is my guess.
  • What exactly is going to grow WP7's market share. Balmer, Belfiore, Watson, etc like to point to Android's rise. The fact is when Android came in the Competition was iPhone, Windows Mobile and Blackberry. Now you are facing a very mature, well established iPhone (love it or hate it, great looking hardware and a very smooth operating system with a great eco-system) and a quickly maturing Android platform with tons of devices in Low (free), middle (
  • The fact that there are a growing number of dissatisfied Android and iPhone users. iPhone users who want bigger screens or keyboards but don't want the instability and lack of security of Android. Android users who want a stable, smooth, secure OS but don't want to give up their choice in hardware or just plain don't like Apple.
  • Why wouldn't WP grow? It has Nokia, fujitsu, ZTE, and the Asia and Europe markets they bring. Those are markets and name recognition that WP never had before. Throw in the marketing power that MS. is preparing and the Nokia warchest, WP is going to grow. No matter what most experts think, not everyone wants an Android or an iPhone. Consumers want a choice.
  • I am a former BB user and current Android user. I can tell you that each has flaws. I am looking forward to seeing what WP's flaws are, if Verizon would sell a device with 4G and a bigger screen. I like the Radar I see pics of online, but I am tied to Verizon and not interested in switching to another carrier... and Verizon doesn't sell the Radar or anything similar. I'm not going to sign up for a 2-year contract with an HTC Trophy that's already long in the tooth and has a small display and only 3G data.For WP7 to be successful, they need to get manufacturers to produce and carriers to carry phones with the features the average shopper wants now - 4G/fast data, larger screens, and peppy processor/RAM/OS experience combo. Actually, that same logic could be applied to RIM/BB - make better phones and get carriers to sell them.
  • i actually saw this years ago. the mobile industry was going to be taken over by larger companies that aren't in mobile industry from the start.Palm, Rim, Nokia were all big players and Apple Microsoft and google werent. Now these 3 baddies have moved in because they can all afford to lose because they have the internet, media players, videogame consoles and internet search engines to back up their mobile platforms.On the other hand, palm, rim and nokia didnt have any money to fall back on. tsk tsk.