The number of smartphone owners who use Research In Motions’s (NASDAQ: RIMM) Blackberry is shrinking as a part of the overall market. But, at least the people who use the devices are rich. That is probably of little comfort to RIM, but it does show that handset company still has a base it might rebuild upon at the top of the market. That is only true if it can get the well-to-do to use the wireless internet the way that its competitor’s customers do.
ProperMobile released a report of smartphone habits. In in the firm writes that 11.3% of all Blackberry owners make over $150,000 a year. Among Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android based smartphone owners that figure is only 7.2%, and among user of the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone the number is 10.9%. Those numbers, data about median income and job title make it clear that Blackberry users are professionals and managers more than people who use handsets powered by Android, or the iPhone.
RIM has challenges that are not obvious from its stock price or poor financial trends. It may have a large part of the high end of the smartphone market, but Blackberry owners are not active users of apps or mobile online multimedia. Twenty-one percent of Apple owners use Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX). Only 10.6% of Blackberry users do. Eighty five percent of iPhone users download apps compared to 59.5% of Blackberry users.
A larger study would probably show that Blackberry users are older than people who use Android-based phones and iPhones. The RIM users are well-off enough to pay premium prices for smartphones and the most expensive wireless subscriptions services. But, their app use shows that they are more part of the past use of wireless mobile than of the future.
And, there is no way that RIM can force or entices its users to become avid users of interactive wireless features if they are not inclined to do so already. That is another trend that runs sharply against RIM’s future.
Douglas A. McIntyre