Despite all the negative press that BlackBerry — we’re talking about RIM, rebranded — has received, the Canadian corporation still has a major presence among carriers and consumers alike in the true north. While it’s no surprise that Canadians are so supportive of a company that is based in Waterloo, Ontario, on home turf, what is rather surprising is the sharp difference in BlackBerry interest between Americans and Canadians.
Sprint announced on Monday that it will be the first major carrier in the United States not to offer the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone on its network. The carrier says that it is not attempting to claim that its customers are any different than those belonging to its competitors, namely AT&T and Verizon Wireless, but notes that it simply believes its user base will find better value in the BlackBerry Q10 with a full QWERTY keyboard.
If you travel north of the border, however, all major carriers in Rogers, Bell and Telus are offering the BlackBerry Z10 as a prepaid or subsidized on-contract handset. Even smaller carriers such as Fido, Koodo and Virgin Mobile are also carrying the new smartphone. And, more importantly, the phone is flying off the shelves. The BlackBerry Z10 has reportedly outsold both the iPhone and Galaxy S III in Canada since it launched.
In the United States, comparatively, the BlackBerry Z10 might be forced to compete on tougher ground. iOS and Android continue to dominate the U.S. market, with combined market share reaching 92 percent according to the latest numbers for the fourth quarter of last year. There is little wiggle room for the BlackBerry to grow stateside, considering that a number of consumers already have a flagship Apple or Samsung smartphone.
While there are certainly a number of iPhone and Android users that have switched to the new flagship BlackBerry 10 handset, a big reason why the device has been successful in Canada is because a significant portion of Canadians had older BlackBerry devices and were waiting for this refresh to come for several years. There is definitely some brand loyalty to BlackBerry in Canada that you simply don’t see in the United States.
One area where the BlackBerry can still be considered relevant worldwide is enterprise, as the handset lineup is still a popular choice among business and corporate users. That’s not to say the iPhone isn’t dominating enterprise, because it is, but there is still a chance for BlackBerry to grow in the business sector with its new BlackBerry 10 platform. But the battle to gain consumer confidence in the BlackBerry over the iPhone and Android smartphones is going to be a tough battle, that’s for certain.
BlackBerry will most certainly be pleased that its new flagship smartphones are performing well in its home and native land, Canada, but the United States is a significantly larger market — by almost ten times — and will certainly make or break the company heading forward. It has been said that BlackBerry 10 is RIM’s — for naming sake — last chance at becoming relevant again in the consumer electronic space, so it had better hope that it can convince Americans to buy into BlackBerry as much as its friendly neighbours to the north do. We’ll find out in mid-March.