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'''United States''' '''United States'''
-The U.S. is the single largest of RIM's markets, accounting for over half of total sales. As with Canada, however, the U.S.'s share of RIM's revenue has been decreasing steadily over the past three years. In FY2005, 67.7% of RIM's sales came from the U.S., whereas the U.S. accounted for only 57.9% of FY2007 sales. The actual num ber of BlackB erry users in the U.S. has increased significantly, but other markets have nonetheless outpaced it in terms of growth.+The U.S. is the single largest of RIM's markets, accounting for over half of total sales. As with Canada, however, the U.S.'s share of RIM's revenue has been decreasing steadily over the past three years. In FY2005, 67.7% of RIM's sales came from the U.S., whereas the U.S. accounted for only 57.9% of FY2007 sales. The actual number of BlackBerry users in the U.S. has increased significantly, but other markets have nonetheless outpaced it in terms of growth.
'''Other''' '''Other'''

Revision as of 11:13, February 15, 2011

Research In Motion Limited (NASDAQ:RIMM) is a leading designer, manufacturer, and marketer of smartphones and related services. RIM generates most of its revenues through the sale of its popular BlackBerry smartphone, which has become highly popular for corporate customers around the world. RIM is rather unique among its peers in that it not only produces the BlackBerry handsets, but also develops its own operating system and network services. As competition within the smartphone market has intensified, RIM has expanded beyond the enterprise market into the consumer market, launching models such as the BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Pearl devices. To counteract the loss of customers to competitors such as Apple, RIM extended its BlackBerry platform to the tablet space, unveiling the PlayBook, the first tablet aimed at the enterprise market[1].

Company Overview

Founded in 1984 and headquartered in Ontario, Canada, Research in Motion (RIMM) is a leading manufacturer of wireless devices, particularly smart phone. Though RIM is most known for its popular BlackBerry smart phone , the company offers a number of other products and services geared toward wireless data access. Originally, the company rose to fame for offering enterprise customers access to their corporate e-mail using their BlackBerry devices, eliminating the need for a separate, wireless-only e-mail account. This provided customers with greater mobility, allowing them to roam all around without having to use multiple e-mail addresses throughout the course of the day. Additionally, the BlackBerry system actively "pushes" e-mail to the device. Many e-mail accounts require that the user log in to see if any new messages have been received. With "push e-mail", e-mail accounts are constantly monitored for activity; when a new message is received, it's forwarded through the BlackBerry system and to the user's device instantaneously. Though these original features were aimed primarily at corporate customers, RIM has since expanded its offerings to include the consumer market as well with its release of the Blackberry "Pearl" and Blackberry "Curve."

Business and Financial Metrics

In FY2010, RIM reported revenues of $15 billion, a 35% increase over the previous year, as well as a 65% YoY growth in its subscriber account base and a 40% YoY growth in its mobile phone shipments[2]. In 1Q11, RIM witnessed revenues of $4.24 billion, a 24% increase from 1Q10’ $3.42 billion in revenue. 79% of this revenue can be traced to its devices, 16% to service, 2% to software, and 3% to other revenue. The high contribution from devices can be attributed to a 43% uptick in RIM smartphone shipments from 1Q10 (to 11.2 million), reaching its 100 millionth BlackBerry smartphone sold[3]. The company also reported a total subscriber base of 46 million, fueled by 4.9 million net new subscriber accounts for the quarter, a 60% increase over 1Q10. Finally, net income for the quarter was $768.9 million, a 20% increase from 1Q10’s net income of $643 million[4].

Business Segments

Devices (80% of revenue in 4Q10[2])

RIM primarily manufactures smart phones, or devices that combine the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) with those of regular mobile phones. RIM is most famous for its BlackBerry wireless device, which has become one of the most popular smart phones for corporate customers. While the majority of RIM's revenues come from sales in the enterprise market, the company successfully expanded into the consumer market with the launches of the BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Pearl. As of September 2010, BlackBerrys have an average selling price of $299 and are available through 565 carriers and distribution partners in approximately 175 countries, according to management[5]. RIM plan Its most recent additions are the BlackBerry Torch and the BlackBerry Curve 3G, both launched in 2010[6].

BlackBerry Models Available in January 2010
Series Features Series Features
Tour (9630)
  • GPS
  • World phone capability
  • 3.2 MP camera
Storm 2
  • Wi-Fi support
  • Enhanced touch screen
  • 3.2 MP camera
Bold 2 (9700)
  • Wi-Fi support
  • Trackpad navigation
  • 3.2 MP camera
Curve 3 (8500)
  • GPS and Wi-Fi
  • Thin, light-weight design
  • 3.2 MP camera
Pearl Flip
  • Wi-Fi support
  • Mobile streaming
  • Video recording
  • GPS and Wi-Fi
  • Mobile streaming
  • Video recording

Services (16% of revenue in FY2010[7])

RIM operates its own infrastructure that provides wireless data and e-mail access to its customers. RIM charges wireless providers a monthly infrastructure access fee, and the carrier then bills individual customers for the service. Though RIM's wireless data infrastructure is primarily used by BlackBerry devices, RIM does license its technology to other cell phone manufacturers. This allows other, non-BlackBerry devices to send and receive data using the same network technology. These BlackBerry Connect and BlackBerry Built-In services are available on a variety of smart phones, allowing RIM to earn revenue from customers who don't even own a BlackBerry.

Software (2% of revenue in FY2010[7])

RIM's BlackBerry smart phones include a proprietary operating system, the BlackBerry OS. The company also offers a variety of other programs designed to utilize the BlackBerry's hardware features. These programs include a personal information manager (PIM) that manages contacts, appointments, and memos, a GPS positioning and navigation program, games, and mobile Internet programs. For its enterprise customers, RIM also sells software for both corporate servers and desktop personal computers. These types of programs allow businesses to provide employees with access to corporate e-mail, Intranet, etc., via their BlackBerry devices. This is particularly useful for companies with employees who travel frequently but still need to remain reachable via e-mail.

Other (2% of revenue in FY2010[7])

RIM also sells accessories, technical support services, and a variety of repair and maintenance programs. Though revenues in this segment have been growing steadily, they have been accounting for a smaller and smaller percentage of RIM's total sales. This is mostly due to even faster growth in the sales of BlackBerry devices and related services.

Trends and Forces

International Expansion


Canada, RIM's home country, has been accounting for a steadily decreasing percentage of the company's revenues for the past few years. In fiscal years 2005, 2006, and 2007, Canada accounted for 9.2%, 8.6%, and 7.3% of RIM's revenues, respectively. The number of BlackBerry users in Canada is still growing, but at a much slower rate than in other geographic regions. The reason for this is that isn't nearly as much room for growth in Canada; the country already leads even the U.S. in penetration of BlackBerry devices.

United States

The U.S. is the single largest of RIM's markets, accounting for over half of total sales. As with Canada, however, the U.S.'s share of RIM's revenue has been decreasing steadily over the past three years. In FY2005, 67.7% of RIM's sales came from the U.S., whereas the U.S. accounted for only 57.9% of FY2007 sales. The actual number of BlackBerry users in the U.S. has increased significantly, but other markets have nonetheless outpaced it in terms of growth.


New, emerging markets are responsible for much of RIM's recent sales growth. The percentage of RIM's revenues coming from countries other than Canada and the U.S. has grown from less than one fourth of sales in FY2005 to over one third in FY2007. Whereas the BlackBerry has already achieved significant market penetration in RIM's two primary markets, its smaller presence in other markets leaves much room for growth. Several of these markets have been experiencing periods of rapid growth themselves, spurring an increase in the demand for high-end PDAs and mobile phones. For example, RIM recently entered into a partnership with China Mobile to sell its popular BlackBerry Smart phone in China. About 10,000 BlackBerry 8700 model smart phones are set to be distributed though Alcatel-Lucent, BlackBerry's distributor in China, to China Mobile customers in late December 2007.

In the first quarter of 2008, Russian mobile firms MTS and Vimpelcom will also be selling Blackberry phones and servicing corporate clients. The permission to sell Blackberry was granted for one year by Russian state security services. Combined, the two firms are expected to ship about 2,000 Blackberry phones.

Wireless technologies

New wireless technologies are always being developed, which is generally a good thing. Data transfer speeds have increased significantly over the past few years, as the wireless industry has begun moving from second generation (2G) mobile technology to third generation (3G). As with any large-scale advance in technology, however, there are several competing wireless standards all vying to become the new industry standard. Due to the data-intensive nature of BlackBerry service, Research in Motion has an interest in the outcome of the battle of the wireless standards. If RIM places its bets on the wrong standard and produces handsets specifically for that type of network, the results for the company would be detrimental.

Hedging bets with 3G

3G, a group of wireless technologies that offers much faster data service and higher capacity than previous 2G technologies, has become the standard for wireless data service. RIM's BlackBerry devices currently utilize either 3G or "2.5G", which are faster than 2G but not as fast as other 3G standards. RIM uses a variety of carriers, including AT&T (T), Vodafone AirTouch Public Limited Company (VOD), Deutsche Telekom AG (DT), Sprint Nextel (S), and Verizon Communications (VZ), which themselves use various wireless standards in their networks. As such, RIM's real problem with 3G isn't incompatibility; it's taken care to dabble in more than one 3G technology, hedging its bets somewhat. Rather, the fact that regular handsets will soon be able to send and receive wireless data as quickly as a BlackBerry device could pose something of a risk to RIM. While this is true, the BlackBerry's design, hardware configuration, and software set it apart from regular mobile handsets and make it more useful for the demographic it targets, the mobile professional.

4G: impending technology split

Though the transition from second to third generation wireless technologies has yet to be completed, developers are already working on the next step, 4G. One of the leading standards paving the way for the development and implementation of 4G technology is WiMax. This technology competes with both of the two major 3G systems, CDMA2000 (EV-DO) and UMTS (W-CDMA), offering speeds upwards of five times as fast as either of the two. In the U.S., all but one of the major carriers of BlackBerry devices support the development of W-CDMA as the next industry standard. Only Sprint strongly supports WiMax, recently making a significant $3 billion investment in the technology. WiMax and W-CDMA networks are incompatible with one another, which could impact RIM. At some point, RIM will have to decide which technology to utilize in its devices; a bet in the wrong direction would be costly and risky.

From Enterprise to Consumer

Although enterprise customers once drove RIMM's revenues, wireless technology has improved dramatically since the company's launch and allowed both handset manufacturers and wireless carriers to lower costs. As a result the BlackBerry has become significantly more affordable to the average consumer. In order to battle with Apple's iPhone in the consumer market, RIMM's Blackberry App World has doubled its device application offerings to around 2,000 "apps" in an attempt to rival Apple's 50,000. [8]


Research in Motion competes in several different areas of the wireless industry; it manufactures handsets, produces software such as its BlackBerry operating system, and offers its own services and infrastructure. This sets RIM apart from most of its competitors, who generally operate in just one or two segments of the overall wireless industry. Though RIM offers several distinct products and services, it still targets a very specific segment of the wireless market. Smart phones, like RIM's BlackBerry, are quite different from basic mobile phones and are aimed primarily at the enterprise and higher-end consumer markets. The competitor most similar to RIM is Nokia, which both makes smart phones and related software. These products make up a small percentage of Nokia's total sales, however, whereas RIM is almost exclusively dedicated to its smart phone business. As such, RIM is much more leveraged than Nokia to its success in the smart phone market.


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RIM is a dominant force in both the enterprise and consumer markets, especially in the U.S. Nielsen Media reported that in 2009 the top-selling smartphone was the Blackberrry 8300 Curve, representing 17% of total sales, followed closely by Apple's IPhone 3G and IPhone 3G S, with a combined 27% of total sales[10]. Other competitors include Palm's "Treo", Motorola's "Q", Nokia's "E" series, and Sony-Ericsson's "M" and "P" series. The introduction of Apple's feature-laden iPhone has caused something of a stir in the smartphone industry, with many fearing that smartphone manufacturers would lose substantial market share to Apple. To cushion its dominance in the enterprise market, RIM acquired Office document platform developer DataViz in September 2010, facilitating the opening and editing of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files for BlackBerry users[11].

Top-Selling Smartphones in 2009 % of total US Sales[10]
Blackberry 8300 Curve17%
Apple iPhone 3G15%
Apple iPhone 3G S12%
Blackberry 9530 Storm6%
Blackberry 8100 Pearl5%

Global Smartphone Vendor Shipments (Millions of Units)[12]. 2008 4Q09 2009 YoY Change
Nokia 60.520.867.812.1
Research in Motion 23.510.734.546.8%
Apple 13.78.725.183.2%
Others 53.412.846.4-13.1%
Total 151.153.0173.815.0%

Global Smartphone Vendor Market Share (%)[12] 2008 4Q09 2009 YoY Change
Research in Motion 15.520.219.827.7%
Apple 9.116.414.458.2%
Others 35.424.226.7-24.6%

Mobile OS and Platforms

  • Microsoft produces Windows Mobile, a version of its operating system designed for use with smartphones and other handheld devices.
  • Access Co., Ltd. (TYO:4813) is the owner of the Palm OS, after acquiring PalmSource in September 2005. Its OS is used in a range of smartphones, most notably the Palm line of Treo devices.
  • Symbian Ltd. is a software development company that produces Symbian OS, a smartphone operating system. Symbian Ltd. is owned by a consortium of wireless and electronic companies, including:
  • Apple's iPhone uses a mobile version of the company's OS X.
  • Nokia (NOK) produces S60, a platform for mobile phones that uses the Symbian OS, which it both uses in its smartphones and licenses to other manufacturers.

Smartphone OS Used in 2009 (1000s)[13] February May July October
No Proprietary OS206,825.9203,920.2200,981.7196,773.1
Apple 5,258.55,744.06,630.38,970.0
Google 427.9797.6894.21,020.4
Microsoft 6,807.67,040.66,659.67,131.8
Palm 2,398.82,406.22,626.22,843.5
Research in Motion 96,669.012,202.113,080.614,963.2

Operating Systems Click Through Rate (CTR)[14] Click Through Rate (Indexed at 100)
Apple's iPhone 119
Windows Mobile 112
Featured Phones 84
Google's Android 65
Palm 28
Research in Motion 26


  1. "Can RIM's PlayBook Compete with iPad?" Wall Street Journal, 09/28/2010
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Research in Motion Reports Year-End and Fourth Quarter Results for Fiscal 2010" 03/31/10
  3. [ “Research in Motion Reports First Quarter Results and Announces Share Repurchase Program,” RIM Investor Relations, 06/24/10]
  4. "Research In Motion CEO Discusses F2Q2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript," SeekingAlpha, 09/16/2010
  5. "Holiday Season, International Markets Should Lift RIM’s Stock," Trefis Investment Research, 09/20/2010
  6. 7.0 7.1 7.2
  7. Hugo Miller and Crayton Harrison (July 6, 2009). RIM Doubles Applications to 2,000, Taking on Apple. Bloomberg.
  8. "Gartner Says Grey-Market Sales and Destocking Drive Worldwide Mobile Phone Sales to 309 Million Units; Smartphone Sales Grew 13 Per Cent in Third Quarter of 2009" Gartner Newsroom, 11/12/09
  9. 10.0 10.1 "2010 Media Industry Fact Sheet," Nielsen Media
  10. "BlackBerry maker RIM acquires Office document platform developer DataViz," Lynley, Matthew, DealsBeat, September 7th, 2010
  11. 12.0 12.1 [ "Strategy Analytics: Global Smartphone Shipments Jump 30 Percent to 53 Million in Q4 2009," BusinessWire 02/01/10
  12. "Top Smartphone Operating Systems in October," comScore
  13. "Mobile Ad Click Rates: Symbian Destroys iPhone," Smaato, December 2009
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