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Why Blackberry is still so popular in the US and Canada October 20, 2010

Posted by themobilephoneconnoisseur in Uncategorized.

Blackberry specifically has been the dominant smart phone for many years in the US and it’s home country Canada. But this is not the case in for example Europe and not in Japan. Why is there such a difference in smart phone penetration between continents?

I believe that the story goes back to the mid 90s. At this time the US mobile (cell) phone market was really messy, with mixed analog and digital mobile networks, and even the digital networks were not very compatible. Changing service provider required to go into a shop and hand over the handset itself. A number or proprietary technologies emerged, but none of them were particularly good at data access.

Then RIM with their Blackberry came into the market and with their integration with Lotus and Exchange as well as POP/IMAP e-mail the impact was huge. Things all of a sudden actually worked really great. Also the usability was impressive, and also the extremely speedy text based interface. The secret was also a proprietary own backbone network, which connected everything together with a very effective compression of plain text, which reduced the latency and increased the speed even more. The backside was that the handset itself was configured to the RIM accounts, making it difficult to shift service provider. And obviously there were huge corporate bills paid to RIM each month, both to suppliers and to mobile operators, since it was proprietary technology and monopolized.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world (the so called “international” market…) the GSM-standard became much cheaper and efficient. Moving between handsets and having the SIM-cards be the identification in the networks turned out to be the winning concept, especially since Nokia, Alcatel and Ericsson managed to roll out their technology in the emerging markets quite successfully. Also GPRS and UMTS (2.5G and 3G) evolved and data access became a commodity, where developers and e-mail providers could very easily and cheaply distribute software that accessed e-mail, and now zillions of other ways of communicating through social networks.

Taking a step back 10-12 years ago in the US; AOL, CompuServe and Prodigy had to shift their business model and allow their users to access the web, as their own proprietary technology became uninteresting and could not keep up the speed. The question is now if BlackBerry can continue this path, or if they will be the new CompuServe.



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