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It was a black day for Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) when the company reported earnings in late September. Following the earnings report, the smartphone manufacturer's stock price shed 17%, and the share-price pounding hasn't stopped. Research In Motion's (RIM) stock continued to slide in the following weeks and has now lost nearly one-third of its pre-earnings value. It has definitely been a beating, but seriously, nearly a third of its value lost? Was the news that bad? Is the BlackBerry maker doing that poorly against Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) in the war for wireless fruits?
Not likely. The more realistic scenario is that BlackBerry and the iPhone will continue to absorb market share from their relatively small starting positions. Most notably, Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) is still suffering a headache from the drubbing that the BlackBerry and the iPhone gave it last year.
The most recent data show both companies continuing to rapidly gain market share; research firm Gartner reports the BlackBerry controls 19% of global smartphone market share, up from under 10% in 2007. Likewise, the iPhone has gone from 3% in 2007 to 13% today. Meanwhile, Nokia fell from 49% to 45%. The best part for RIM and Apple is the outsized profits they're generating on their sales. While phone makers like Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , Sony Ericsson, LG, and Samsung have a higher percentage of total cell-phone sales, their phones carry very low margins and generate little profit.
Meanwhile RIM and Apple keep developing new technologies to further their growth and maintain superior pricing power on their phones. Compare this to companies like Palm (Nasdaq: PALM ) , which had to take hiatus from smartphone sales to come up with its next big idea. Or companies like Motorola, Sony Ericsson, and Samsung, which have had to retrench and adopt Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android operating system to stay relevant. While these companies flounder, RIM and Apple keep marching along, strengthening their platforms and minting money.
The iPhone has the applications -- more than 2 billion applications have been downloaded from the App store -- BlackBerry has strong services for business purposes with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and Personal Information Management. Using these core strengths, I expect these two companies to beat down the competition relentlessly.
Foolish bottom line
RIM's real strengths lay in its ever-increasing, loyal installed subscriber base of more than 32 million people. Furthermore, its international reach is rapidly expanding with new launches taking place in Serbia, Cambodia, Singapore, and Thailand. RIM has plenty of room to run with only 19% market share and a cash-generating, debt-free business to fund it. No doubt, Apple will be a worthy competitor, but RIM even has edges here. RIM has staked its claim among business users, while Apple plays more to the younger, less professional crowd. Moreover, RIM distributes through major American carriers like Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T (NYSE: T ) , while Apple has constrained itself to just AT&T.
It might look like the underdog right now, but don't count RIM out yet. I'm picking it to grow solidly for the foreseeable future. Oh ... and a note to James Balsillie: There is room for two smartphone companies, but two hockey teams in Ontario is one too many -- let's not bring in a third, eh?