Here’s some surprising news: yesterday, RIM CEO, Thorsten Heins, told press that the number of BlackBerry subscribers is on the rise. The number rose from 78 million to 80 million over the last year. Dinosaur smartphones coupled with an aging operating system shouldn’t add up to more subscribers. Yet, miraculously, it does. It seems as though BlackBerry fans like their phones just the way they’ve always been. Those fans, in turn, have sparked other users tired of iPhone updates to lean towards RIM once again.
In the wake of Heins’ announcement, RIM stock rose slightly. How can RIM’s subscriber numbers be on the rise when so many other smartphones are on the market? The answer is the same as it’s always been. RIM focuses on a particular market, sticks to its well-carved niche, and doesn’t ben due to pressure. Network outages and lackluster phones aside, RIM’s smartphones are the workhorses of the phone industry.
Comparing BlackBerry to iPhone
There’s a stigma in the business world. Carrying an iPhone can be shameful in some circles. Serious business people use BlackBerry phones, so the stigma goes. Apple has long battled iPhone’s reputation for being the app-centered phone. The phone to choose if you aren’t a businessperson and you don’t simply want a work tool. Even though Apple has tried to shirk this stereotype by introducing features like Siri and creating business-centered commercials, the iPhone is still seen as a tool for those who aren’t serious about business.
Is iPhone’s reputation warranted? Not really. The fact is that the iPhone is a great working tool. But, it’s not a BlackBerry. There’s also RIM’s excellent messaging service, BBM. Those who use BBM prize this service about most else. Ask a BlackBerry user what they love about their phone, and you’re likely to get a BBM response. BBM is one the most popular messaging services used all over the globe. And then, there’s the small business amidst the big giants factor.
A Small Company Still
RIM is still a small Canadian company. Unlike the guise that companies like Google hide behind RIM remains truly small. People like supporting the underdog. It happens all the time. RIM isn’t the giant company that Apple or Samsung is. While you can’t meet with Thorsten Heins directly or expect anyone at RIM to know your name, the faГ§ade of the small, friendly, neighborhood, company is what people tend to gravitate towards.
So, RIM’s subscriber numbers are on the rise. I expect those numbers to keep rising with the release of BlackBerry 10 (provided that it lives up to RIM’s hype). If RIM manages to pull off a BlackBerry 10 that’s impressive, intelligent, and ready to be released without flaws, RIM might just have a chance of being a top smartphone company once again – in addition to some newly revamped phones, of course. Either way, the small Canadian company seems to be headed in an upward direction. If you have a BlackBerry (or are a new subscriber), let me know what your motivation behind your smartphone choice is.