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RIM Thunders

Posted on Wednesday, Jun 11th 2008

With the 3G iPhone targeting enterprise users with push-email, better security, and low price, Apple’s race with RIM has started to get interesting. There are reports of a touch-screen enabled iPhone killer from RIM called the Thunder. Photos of the device posted a day before the 3G iPhone release may be stealing the thunder from the iPhone.

The Blackberry Thunder is expected in the third quarter exclusively on Verizon and Vodafone and would have 3G (and probably 4G). With this device, RIM is finally rising up to the iPhone challenge. According to IDC, RIM’s US smartphone market share in Q1 has risen to 44.5% from 35.1% in Q4 while Apple’s share fell from 26.7% to 19.2% due to phasing out of the earlier iPhone. Palm had 13.4%, up from 7.9% in Q4 driven by the success of Centro priced at $99. Samsung had 8.6%, while Motorola had just 2.6% of the market.

And in the global smartphone market, according to Gartner, Nokia leads with a 45.2% market share with shipment of 14.5 million in Q1. RIM is No.2 with 13.4% followed by Apple with 5.3%. Shipments from Nokia grew by 25.3% and RIM 107.3%. So instead of eating into each other’s shares, demand for smartphones spurred by the iPhone has created room for everyone. And the 3G iPhone is likely to add more fuel to the fire. Analysts have raised the iPhone units estimate to about 12 million in 2008 and from 15.5 million to upto 45 million in 2009.

Though the 3G iPhone is faster, I reckon the Thunder as the name suggests would be even faster. In fact the Blackberry Bold itself (expected to start selling this summer) is supposed to take one-fourth of the iPhone’s download time. And for the many enterprise users who can’t do without a keyboard or a BlackBerry, Thunder may seem like a better alternative.

But the iPhone is after all the iPhone and I bet there are millions of enterprise users who have been waiting for the iPhone to get into the enterprise. And once Apple irons out the kinks, it would be using its “Ultimate Convergence Device” positioning to go after small laptops, NOT just the SmartPhones as we discussed in an earlier post, iPhone and the Future of RIM.

Yesterday, after the release of the 3G iPhone, RIMM shares were down $1.54 or 1% at $129.87. It has now picked up well and is currently trading around $136 with a market cap of around $164 billion. And if you compare the charts of RIMM and Apple, they seem to be parallel to each other. I am pleased to see that the market pretty much assesses the overall sector momentum the same way that I view it: It’s a party for all the stars!

Chart for Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM)

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