Research in Motion stock hits 8-year low. BlackBerry users leaving.
Research in Motion stock falls after company delays arrival of new phones next year. But the real problem for Research in Motion stock: Loyal BlackBerry users are jumping to other smartphones.
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To be sure, BlackBerry still has its defenders. Robert Laikin, CEO of cellphone distributor Brightpoint, said that RIM represents between 5 percent to 10 percent of the 110 million phones his company handles globally every year.Skip to next paragraph
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"I still have a BlackBerry. When I talk to my friends who are business professionals, most of them still have a BlackBerry. Some of them have bought an additional device too," he told Reuters.
"All manufacturers I've worked with in the last 25 years have product delays. What RIM is going through isn't different," he said. "I believe RIM will survive because their product is very sticky."
There are still many companies who prefer their employees use BlackBerrys because they feel that RIM offers the best security features to protect corporate data. But these enterprise customers are shrinking, analysts said.
Gary Curtis, chief technology strategist at global technology consulting giant Accenture, pointed to improvements in security from Apple and Google mobile software in recent years.
"Choice and leveling of the playing field is the fundamental enabling factor for companies being able to say to employees, use the device you like," he said. "It's not a headlong rush ... but they're opening the door to more devices and people make their own choices."
Interviews with other consumers at phone stores on Friday illustrated why the former bastion of corporate smart phones faces tough competition.
"I'm a BlackBerry user but my company makes me use it," said a shopper called John who was playing with a BlackBerry Torch at an AT&T store in San Francisco. He declined to give his last name.
"Anyone who is anyone at my company has an iPhone, but they make us use BlackBerry still," he added. "I think I might break mine and buy an iPhone. The touch screen on this Torch works pretty well, but the iPhone is just easier to use."
A Sprint store manager said BlackBerry phones would sell better if they had more apps. But some app developers aren't interested in the BlackBerry platform, partly because the technology is difficult to work with.
"Of the companies that pitch to us, I can't think of any that are starting out by developing an app for the BlackBerry," said Theresia Gouw Ranzetta of venture capital firm Accel Partners, which invests in mobile app developers.
Hotel Tonight, a start-up backed by Accel's Ranzetta, has developed apps for the iPhone, Android phones and an HTML5 version for its last-minute hotel booking service.
"Will they make a dedicated BlackBerry app? Not on the roadmap," she said.