John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM in a Four-Horse Race for Third Place

Research in Motion may be a global leader in the mobile email market, but in the fast-developing smartphone sector it’s just another company battling for the right to third place. That’s Gleacher & Company analyst Mark McKechnie’s take on the BlackBerry maker and, frankly, after RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis’s strained–and at times nonsensical–performance at D:Dive Into Mobile yesterday, it’s perhaps easier than it should be to agree with him.

In a pessimistic note to clients Tuesday, McKechnie said he expects RIM to lose share in the smartphone market as the company’s growth, which has not paced that of the broader industry, slows further. RIM’s battle now is not a battle for smartphone dominance, but for relevance–the same one being fought by Nokia, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard’s Palm unit.

“[RIM is in a] battle for third,” McKechnie wrote. “We see Apple and [Google] as the clear top two players, with 18 percent and 23 percent smart phone share in CY11, growing to 20 percent and 26 percent in CY12. The battle for third place is getting more competitive as we watch RIM, Nokia, Microsoft and Palm compete to build an ecosystem behind Apple and Google.”

A very different assessment than this one offered by Lazaridis yesterday: “BlackBerry is becoming No. 1 around the world….This is a huge market, and we have a front-row seat.”

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What’s happening is that we might, in fact, be at a time in our history where we’re being domesticated by these great big societal things, such as Facebook and the Internet. We’re being domesticated by them, because fewer and fewer and fewer of us have to be innovators to get by. And so, in the cold calculus of evolution by natural selection, at no greater time in history than ever before, copiers are probably doing better than innovators. Because innovation is extraordinarily hard.

— Mark Pagel, fellow of the Royal Society and professor of evolutionary biology, in conversation with