It’s all change in the tech world with Canada’s Research in Motion, maker of BlackBerry phones and PlayBook tablets, spooking the financial markets with a profit warning and an admission that its share of the smartphone market has dropped from 20 per cent to 14 per cent.
BlackBerry sales have been hit by the touch screen Apple iPhone phenomenon but its biggest problem is Google’s rival Android system which now powers a number of leading phone brands including Sony Ericsson and a renascent Motorola. Android now has a 33 per cent share of the smartphone market.
The company has also had software problems with its otherwise well-received PlayBook tablet computer. Like other companies it has been forced to rush out a rival to Apple’s iPad to try to prevent Apple monopolising a vast new sector of the mobile cum computer market.
The fear among analysts is that RIM is going the same way as troubled long-time market leader Finland’s Nokia, which is betting its future on a controversial tie-up with Microsoft and its Windows 7 phone technology.
The biggest problem for Apple is making enough iPads to satisfy booming global demand.
But Apple which, uniquely, provides all its own software as well hardware does not need the biggest market share in any sector to make the most money. Its desktop and laptop computers have finally cracked the corporate market although their share still lags way behind the likes of Dell and Hewlett-Packard. But because it makes all of its premium-priced products it makes huge money too.
To the extent that, for the first time, it has overtaken long-time rival Microsoft in quarterly profits, Microsoft announcing yesterday that it had made $5.23bn in the first quarter of 2011, behind Apple’s $5.99bn.
Apple is already ahead of Microsoft in market capitalisation, second only in the US to oil giant Exxon Mobile, as analysts rate its pipeline of products more highly than Microsoft’s.