Once the dominant smartphone platform in the U.S., Research in Motion's humble BlackBerry now finds itself in grave danger of becoming extinct, as both Apple and Google continue to swallow its market share. Making matters worse, earlier this week an outspoken RIM shareholder demanded that RIM sell itself or its patent portfolio in an effort to remain relevant in the cut-throat smartphone market.
Is this the final death bell for RIM? Will we see a fire sale on BlackBerry devices much like we did on HP's TouchPad once webOS was discontinued? To help us get a better grasp of RIM's current standing, we turned to our own deals — specifically deals on RIM devices — to see how popular they've been with our own readers.
One of RIM's biggest product announcements this year was the BlackBerry PlayBook ($439.99 with free shipping, a low by $40), a tablet that RIM hoped would bring the company back from the ashes. Unfortunately, the tablet debuted to mediocre reviews, and despite some modest discounts (the 16GB model dropped 10% since its release, whereas the 64GB model dropped 21%), our readers showed less interest in the device as the months went by.
There are still a few die-hard BlackBerry fans out there, but even they are beginning to dwindle. Just this summer, deals on BlackBerry smartphones received 60% less views on our site than deals on refurbished iPhones. That's dismal when compared to last summer, when BlackBerry deals received just 10% fewer views than iPhone deals. This suggests a significant drop off in interest in just a year, and it paints a pretty bleak future for RIM.
The chances of RIM completely disappearing by year's end are slim. The company claims its international market share is up, and they have "almost $3 billion in cash," according to its last fiscal report. But going forward, the BlackBerry will no longer be the "it" smartphone for email addicts or even for corporations, where BlackBerry has traditionally thrived. Unless RIM does something soon, the BlackBerry will fade out and join the rankings of other fallen manufacturers like Nokia.