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BlackBerry Decline Is a Warning Korean Phone


Research in Motion, the Canadian telecom and mobile company best known as the developer of the BlackBerry smartphone, is sinking, following in the footsteps of Finland’s Nokia. The global market for smartphones is seeing explosive growth, but sales of the BlackBerry are shrinking, amounting to 13.2 million units in the first quarter of the 2011 fiscal year (March to May), down 1.7 million units from the same period last year.

BlackBerry sales are projected to fall even further to 11 million units in the fiscal second quarter. RIM is ranked third in the world in smartphone sales after Nokia and Apple, but is soon expected to be overtaken by Samsung Electronics.

The BlackBerry was considered a must-have for office workers in North America because they could check their e-mail and exchange online messages long before other mobile phone makers followed suit. Even U.S. President Barack Obama said he was addicted to the BlackBerry.

But RIM failed to predict that the main clients of smartphones would shift from office workers to ordinary consumers. Even when Apple brought in touch screens for smartphones, RIM stubbornly stuck to the keyboard system, and the BlackBerry’s lack of application programs such as music players and games prompted customers to opt for more versatile handsets. U.S. companies are now shifting to iPhones or Android-based smartphones instead of the BlackBerry for their staff.

Nokia, the No. 1 smartphone maker, has been on a downhill ride as its products are being pushed aside by consumers favoring iPhones or Android smartphones. When Apple unveiled the iPhone back in 2007, Nokia scoffed and boasted that its products were the global standard. But its hubris proved fatal, and it lost its lead in the phone markets of the West.

The decline of Nokia and the BlackBerry are clear reminders of the fierce competition in the IT industry, where letting one’s guard down even for a moment could spell disaster.

Korean mobile phone makers Samsung, LG and Pantech were also slow to respond to the explosive demand for smartphones, but they have managed to hold their ground by capitalizing on the declining sales at Nokia and RIM. But Taiwan’s HTC and China’s ZTE and other rivals are catching up quickly. Korean smartphone makers need to learn from the mistakes of Nokia and RIM.

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