Is an Android BlackBerry Device Inevitable?

As reported on the AllThingsD blog, financial firm Piper Jaffray projects (like IDC previously) that Android phones wil become the number two smartphone platform globally in 2012. IDC thinks it will happen in 2013. There's now general chorus of these predictions from several financial analyst firms. 

Given Android's growth trajectory and adoption by 21 OEMs, 59 carriers in 49 countries it's quite possible that by late 2012 or early 2013 it will be second to Nokia in terms of smartphone share globally. Nokia itself has been asked whether it will adopt Android and has steadfastly said no. The Finnish company is banking on Symbian 3 and MeeGo to boost the company's fortunes vs. Android and the iPhone. 

Piper Jaffray Global Smartphone Marketshare Estimates

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Image credit: AllThingsD, data Piper Jaffray

Take a look at the chart below, exposed yesterday by Quantcast, showing RIM with 9% of mobile Web activity in North America. This low engagement with the mobile Web (vs smartphone share) is a negative sign for RIM in general. As more people seek Internet access on their mobile devices they'll likely turn to the iPhone or Android for that experience. BlackBerry devices are in danger of becoming "second phones" carried at the behest of corporate employers. 

RIM's new "flagship" Torch has seen comparatively modest sales. This has led some to call RIM the "new Palm" and some are loudly calling for RIM to adopt Android. The picture of the handset in the upper right is the first Android prototype, which took its design "inspiration" from BlackBerry before OEMs basically copied the iPhone's touch-screen design.


Palm had its own OS and then adopted Windows before it created WebOS. I suspect we may see a BlackBerry Android phone in the not-too-distant future. However that could undermine some of BlackBerry's vaunted email features unless they could be integrated on top of Android or the device could "dual boot" the BlackBerry OS and Android. (I don't know how possible that would be.)

At the end of the year RIM's position will be much clearer. If devices are selling well RIM will likely stay the course. But if sales decline RIM will be compelled by shareholders to make changes in the "C-suite" and potentially take more radical action such as adopting Android.