Research in Motion is basically dead in the US and in Europe.
BlackBerry phones are great, except they’re the last generation. The iPhone and Android are much better consumer devices and it’s only a matter of time before they penetrate the enterprise. Its small PlayBook tablet seems DOA.
But there’s a place where there’s a lot of growth potential left for RIM: the emerging markets.
RIM has a good shot there because the conditions in the market play to its strengths:
- In emerging markets, BlackBerry is still a prestigious, aspirational brand.
- Its pricing power lets it compete in markets that are mostly prepaid.
- BlackBerry email, which is compressed to one-fifth of its size, is great in markets where data is expensive for most consumers. Limited web browsing is also less of a hindrance in those conditions.
- BlackBerry Messenger plays very well to emerging markets where texting is even more rife than in the West, and expensive.
- Nokia just shot itself in the foot by adopting Windows, which means it won’t be competitive until 2012 at least.
That’s some of the points made by a Reuters report on RIM’s prospects (PDF), which also notes that while US handset sales in 2010 were $35 billion, in the rest of the world the number was $110 billion. Emerging markets are a lower margin business, but there’s still lots of growth to be had.
So even though it probably won’t ever get leadership in the market back, if it plays its card right, RIM can still at least grow noticeably for a good while. For shareholders, that’s at least something.