Six months of U.S. smartphone market share data neatly underscores why Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) is scrambling to get new products out the door: it has tumbled all the way to the third-most prevalent mobile operating system in the U.S. despite commanding a sizable lead in late 2010.
Comscore’s latest market-share numbers emerged Friday, and they paint a grim picture for RIM and its flagship BlackBerry smartphone. Google (NSDQ: GOOG) long ago surpassed RIM to become the leading mobile operating system in the U.S., but RIM has now even fallen behind Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) without Apple having released a significant new phone since the launch of the iPhone 4 last summer. Apple’s edge is quite slight, but it seems likely to expand given that RIM has lost nearly 8 points of share over the last six months, and RIM’s latest BlackBerry 7 phones aren’t scheduled to arrive until “this summer.”
Last month RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie admitted that an “aging” product lineup was hurting the company, especially at the high end of the smartphone market. It’s unclear whether the two new BlackBerry Bold phones will be enough to halt the aging process: phones running RIM’s new QNX software aren’t expected until early 2012 at best.
The numbers also aren’t good for Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT), which has failed to make any noticeable gains now that Windows Phone 7 has been out for about six months. It certainly takes time to build momentum around a new operating system: Android didn’t really hit its stride until a year after it was first released. But the company needs to start generating gains if it wants to play at the big table, which could come along with the first Nokia (NYSE: NOK) handsets, the Mango system update, and the natural boost that comes along with the holiday shopping season.