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December 14, 2010



Great article, Tomi! I enjoyed reading Michael's story about the BlackBerry Torch (not buying one :-), but your analysis is an eye-opener.

Jason Bowers

Could you address some of the data about units per new subscriber? Average selling price? Is you're position they're good for the next 3 years on the developing world business? I read both his piece and your response, but you don't really address his analysis. I was half expecting you to bring up the amazing success of mobile advertising for snow tires again.

Bob Shaw

The divergent reasons for success of a product in different geographies presents a big challenge to business analyst. As smart phone incorporates more and more features, it increasingly becomes a convergent device that is able to perform multiple functions that are at present either separately performed by many devices or not performed at all. The business analyst will have to develop a good understanding of what jobs people are trying to get done with a purchase of a smart phone in different geographies as part of their assessment of the product or company.


"The business analyst will have to develop a good understanding of what jobs people are trying to get done with a purchase of a smart phone in different geographies as part of their assessment of the product or company."

True. However, disruptive technologies like modern, true web-enabled smartphones (think iPhone, Android or high end Nokia device) fundamentally alter user behavior and create new patterns. The ripples from the iphone pebble are still spreading.

I think it's a mistake to think that users will continue to value the ability to text very quickly above other features like- a true, fast web browser or the ability to load apps or an excellent media player.

SMS established itself when users had no other universal, ubiquitous communication system other than voice, which was expensive and intrusive. It has to compete with all of the web technologies as the smartphone market continues to grow. This is simply not the same battle.

Focusing on super-texting phones will force RIM to compete in a high volume, low margin space that the company is simply not set up for and cannot win. In order to stay a high-margin, high growth company, RIM must compete with Apple and the Android makers at the top of the market, and the signs here are ominous as Mace points out.

Tomi is right that most people don't select Blackberries, they are given them or forced to buy them by corporate IT. However, many large Fortune 500 companies are starting to get out of the business of providing handsets (Standard Chartered Bank, Credit Suisse, Bank of America- 3 of the largest banks in the world and 3 huge customers for RIM announced this recently) and will allow users to select their own.

RIM is in trouble, and their CEO's performance at the Wall St. Journal's conference isn't confidence inspiring.

belstaff jacets

good post and thanks for share with us


Tomi, I'm afraid you're gonna be shown to be wrong again, maybe not in the next quarter but in the next year. RIM could most certainly dominate the physical keyboard messaging phone segment, but the ASP and thus, margins, for those phones is dropping fast. RIM's touchscreen phones, which started with the Storm, not the Touch, still are below smartphone average even with BB6, and selling below average even with BOGO free, or just outright get-it-for-free-with-contract promotions.

Even as BBs are still selling well, it's growth rate is now significantly lower than the overall smartphone growth rate. (Somehow in your thinking, that was going to be disastrous for Apple even though it was seasonal, but not for RIM or Nokia, even though it clearly isn't seasonal.)

I'm not sure if you have other indicators you're looking at that you're not talking about. RIM is in trouble; RIM knows it. The problems are deep, and changes are coming, but it's more likely that RIM will shrink into a smaller niche-manufacturer than be the #2 that it has been.


hi, Tomi! this post in my blog, what you notice was for estonian readers, who mainly doesnt believe at all symbian future.
also i notice, that you somehow forget, that smartphone-only RIM and apple already have bigger volumes, than dumb/smartphone motorola, sony-ericsson and fast-growing zte and also not much about smartphonish htc, who is yet bigger, than zte



While I'm not a big supporter of market share as being an indicator of success -- which clearly RIM is losing -- RIM is in even worse shape. They are losing market share and seeing decreasing ASP's. That's a horrible combination. Apple would be fine with only 10-15% of the smart phone market. They make money from iTunes and the iOS market is much bigger than just iPhones. RIM has nothing but phones.


i agree that bb texting is addictive, but ill tell you whats more addictive, facebook and twitter. they make it much more fun to inter-act with your peers. the kids in indonesia will one day out-grow texting. a platform that integrates tightly with social networking will do better then one which is only good for texting. blacberry is just ace of one thing, a modern phone needs to be jack of all trades. if the price is of concern, they can just buy a nokia c6. blackberry miserably lags behind in media and web capabilities, something you assume modern youths dont care about. as a teen ager from bangladesh, i beg to differ.
sorry for my bad english ^_^

Tomi Ahonen

Hi everybody

I will return to respond to all of you, individually. For now, I wanted to point out, that I have done my update of RIM latest quarterly numbers (out a moment ago) and also admitted that my full-year forecast for the Blackberry has been drastically off. Sorry, nobody can get every forecast right. But I will return here to comment to all of you here.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

Tomi Ahonen

Ok, will take first 5 comments here now, returning later for more

Hi Yuri, Jason, Bob, Hantu13 and belstaff

Yuri - thank you. Happy to be of service haha..

Jason - On the units per subcriber and average selling price, those are universal phenomena in mobile (and I believe, they were universal also in the PC platform business earlier until that stabilized). So if it applies to everyone (except Apple) then it cannot really be used to justify the argument that somehow RIM is in trouble - if all major makers report a declining average sales prices globally, from Nokia to SonyEricsson to RIM to Motorola to Samsung to the big analyst houses. On my point - yes, you understood correctly, and I have since done an analysis of the regional focus areas for the 3 big smartphone makers (see yesterday's blog) and yes, RIM is strong exactly where the big growth in smartphones will happen, not strong in the markets that have already experienced their biggest smartphone surges (Europe & North America).

Bob - thanks. I am not sure if you mean to suggest that me - the business analyst here at this blog - is not comprehending the regional differences haha. I would love for you to show me any free online source that has more international comparisons and stats than my blog, about mobile haha..

Hantu13 - I agree with your early part, that the iPhone effect has not yet reached its apex, so we will see MORE disruption still due to the iPhone, than what has already happened. That being said, then what you write about SMS is simply not true. We've had fully internet-abled, and fully app-enabled smartphones for a decade. If that was somehow the over-riding need that we want, it would have supplanted SMS long ago. But there are actual studies on addiction and the SMS addiction is akin to cigarette smoking - far more addictive than internet use (Queensland University of Australia study) - so the evidence says the opposite of what you think is true. This may still change - and if so, I will be the first to announce it on this blog if anyone can prove there is something more addictive than mobile phone messaging, but so far, nothing even comes close. The evidence is clear in several comparison studies, of heavily addicted digital youth - their overwhelming 'must have' most desired function is mobile phone messaging, far far far more than anything on the web, including Facebook, instant messengers etc.

belstaff - thanks.

I will return with more replies to the rest, later. Please keep the discussion going.

Tomi Ahonen :-)

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Il s'agit d'un blog à puce. Je veux dire. Vous avez tellement de connaissances sur ce problème, et tant de passion. Vous savez aussi comment faire rallier les gens derrière lui, de toute évidence à partir des réponses. Youve a obtenu une conception thats ici pas trop flashy, mais fait une déclaration aussi grand que ce que vous êtes dit. Beau travail, en effet.


I don't know if you have seen the latest by Michael Mace at

It appears others had also argued that he missed RIM's strength outside the USA. He acknowledges this but then analyses RIM's latest quarterly earnings in which the company looks increasingly Janus faced. In real trouble in the US but gaining strength elsewhere. 2011 looks like a crunch year for RIM either way.

Any chance of you and Mace having a live chat or blogger debate about RIM?

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the bigest festival-Christmas day is coming now ,so hurry up to buy the gifts for you love.

Henry Peise

According to a previous source of ours, we have been told that Apple in fact has no plans to release the white model iPhone 4. Our source hypothesizes another delay communicated around March leading us into an iPhone 5 release time-frame in June / July.

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We love black iphone, and we also love the white Conversion kit iphone. Now you have a chanve to change your iphone 4 white.

Samir Shah

One of the truisms of digital age is that, eventually, special purpose gives way to general purpose. For special purpose to thrive it needs to undercut general purpose by a sizable amount which can be anywhere from 1/3 to 2/3 of general purpose prices.

Kindle (WiFi $139 and 3G one) undercuts iPad ($500), almost 1/3rd the price.

Point and Shoot cameras ($150) undercut smartphones that have good enough cameras (>5 Mpx) ($500), again almost 1/3rd the price.

But, at present. Blackberry (at a very low $250, it may be more) only undercuts top level smartphones ($500) by 1/2.

Chinese kits for Android phones are arriving in many regional or a country specific manufacturers (I am in India) and that has already broken the price barrier of $200 for Android phones and may break price barrier of $100 for Android phones by middle of next year.

In that environment, better browsing, better multimedia, good apps, flexible regional language virtual keyboards. ease of touch and relatively bigger screen, so important for browsing and video, will tilt the equation in favor of Android forever.

RIM, initially I was sad about "reset"s because I felt that Microsoft could not sell Windows Phone 7 well after a "reset", but I was pleasantly surprised to see that they sold 1.5 million till now.

So RIM, "reset" with QNX, you CAN survive a "reset", time is running out, global replaces special.

white iphone 4

Je lisais quelque chose d'autre à ce sujet sur un autre blog. Intéressant. Votre position sur elle est diamétralement contredit ce que j'ai lu plus t?t. Je suis encore contempler sur les points de vue opposés, mais je suis à bout fortement vers le v?tre. Et peu importe, c'est ce qui est si grande sur la démocratie moderne et le marché de la pensée en ligne.

red bull hats

Dear Tomi,
Thanks for your post,and that was a great piece of information., I enjoyed reading it..,

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Salut, où avez-vous obtenu cette information peut vous s'il vous pla?t appuyer ce avec une certaine preuve ou vous pouvez dire quelques bonnes références que moi et d'autres apprécieront vraiment. Cette information est vraiment bon et je vais dire sera toujours utile si nous essayer sans risques. Donc, si vous pouvez le sauvegarder. Cela nous aidera vraiment à tous. Et cela pourrait apporter un peu de bonne réputation pour vous.

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    Tomi Ahonen is a bestselling author whose twelve books on mobile have already been referenced in over 100 books by his peers. Rated the most influential expert in mobile by Forbes in December 2011, Tomi speaks regularly at conferences doing about 20 public speakerships annually. With over 250 public speaking engagements, Tomi been seen by a cumulative audience of over 100,000 people on all six inhabited continents. The former Nokia executive has run a consulting practise on digital convergence, interactive media, engagement marketing, high tech and next generation mobile. Tomi is currently based out of Helsinki but supports Fortune 500 sized companies across the globe. His reference client list includes Axiata, Bank of America, BBC, BNP Paribas, China Mobile, Emap, Ericsson, Google, Hewlett-Packard, HSBC, IBM, Intel, LG, MTS, Nokia, NTT DoCoMo, Ogilvy, Orange, RIM, Sanomamedia, Telenor, TeliaSonera, Three, Tigo, Vodafone, etc. To see his full bio and his books, visit Tomi Ahonen lectures at Oxford University's short courses on next generation mobile and digital convergence. Follow him on Twitter as @tomiahonen. Tomi also has a Facebook and Linked In page under his own name. He is available for consulting, speaking engagements and as expert witness, please write to tomi (at) tomiahonen (dot) com

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