Lately, RIM has been losing major enterprise customers to Apple on a regular basis. U.S. federal agencies (including NOAA and ATF) have been some of the biggest enterprise switchers from BlackBerry devices to iPhones.
Today’s bad news must have a particularly nasty sting for the BlackBerry manufacturer. For the first time, iPhone sales in RIM’s native Canada have surpassed sales of BlackBerry devices – and by a pretty wide margin. Given the sense of loyalty that many Canadian businesses and consumers have shown to RIM, which is based in Waterloo, Ontario, the new numbers highlight the extent of RIM’s challenges and shortcomings.
The sales figures, compiled by IDC and Bloomberg weren’t even particularly close for 2011, show that Apple outsold RIM by about 770,000 devices (2.85 million iPhones to 2.08 million BlackBerries).
That’s a significant sales gap between the two companies but the simple difference in sales doesn’t show the whole story. If you look at iPhone and BlackBerry sales from just four years ago (the iPhone launched in Canada in 2008 with the iPhone 3G), Canadian sales of BlackBerries beat iPhone sales by a margin of five to one. That’s a lot of marketshare to lose in a few years and it happened in RIM’s home country where there is intense brand loyalty.
The numbers also show an impact on RIM’s bottom line. Canadian sales account for about 7% of RIM’s and those fell 23% during the third fiscal quarter from a year earlier. That isn’t as bad as RIM’s U.S. sales, which dropped 45% over the same period, but it is significant.
Paul Taylor, a fund manager at BMO Harris Private Banking in Toronto called the loss of Canadian smartphone dominance as “strategically important.”
Some enterprise organizations in Canada are sticking with RIM, however, including several government agencies and major financial firms: Royal Bank of Canada (the country’s largest bank), Bank of Nova Scotia, and Bank of Montreal. Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD), which is based in Canada but which also operates in the U.S., is currently assessing its policy the BlackBerry and other smartphones.