June 8, 2011, 2:57 PM

Bye bye, BlackBerry

The smartphone operating system continues to sink. Why bother?

Lead Photo

The iPhone (above) and devices using the Android operating system have been eating away at BlackBerry's smartphone market share.

It was inevitable: Research in Motion’s BlackBerry operating system has finally dropped to third place among mobile operating systems in terms of smartphone market share. BlackBerry used to command well over half of all smartphones in use; now it’s down around a quarter and continuing to sink.

Both comScore Inc. and The Nielsen Co. just released new smartphone market share numbers, and both companies are very much in agreement. ComScore says Android commands 36.4% of the market, Nielsen says 36.0%. ComScore and Nielsen say the iPhone accounts for 26.0% of the market. And comScore says BlackBerry has 25.7% of the market while Nielsen says only 23.0%. ComScore says BlackBerry has dropped yet again, this time 4.7 percentage points from January 2011 to April 2011. Nielsen says BlackBerry has sunk again, this time 4.0 percentage points from December 2010 to April 2011.

BlackBerry has been dropping for more than two years. It’s a smartphone designed for businesspeople, individuals who keep calendars and contacts and check e-mail. They’re not going crazy with apps or browsing the mobile web. My question is: Why bother focusing resources on this dying brand? That’s not a rhetorical question, I’m asking you. Please post comments below.

I don’t see how anyone can defend giving time and effort to BlackBerry when it’s so clear Android and the iPhone are the only games in town. They’re growing, they’re powerful, people love them, and they have far more apps than BlackBerry or also-rans HP WebOS (formerly Palm) and Windows Phone.

To date retailers have been following this trend. I’ve written many stories on merchants debuting iPhone apps and Android apps, but not BlackBerry apps. Gigantic players like Amazon.com Inc. have BlackBerry apps, but I think that’s because they have money to burn. Sure it would be nice to have an app for everybody, but most retailers have limited resources.

The bottom line: Most smartphone owners do more web browsing than using apps. So it’s important to first have an m-commerce web site. Once that is up and running and in peak condition, then a merchant should consider whether an app is good for them. If it is, I believe they need to focus on Android and the iPhone and forget about the rest. No offense to the other players. It simply comes down to the fact that numbers don’t lie.

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