BlackBerry lags behind as CEOs step down

Jennifer Collins Jan 23, 2012

UPDATED: 7:00 a.m. PT

Jeremy Hobson: The two CEOs who helped build Research in Motion into one of the top mobile phone makers in the world are out this morning. They gave up their positions in an attempt to revive a company that used to control about half the U.S. smartphone market, and now lags far behind its competitors.

As Marketplace’s Jennifer Collins reports, it’s the BlackBerry’s signature feature that’s getting a thumbs down from users.

Jennifer Collins: They called it “Blackberry Thumb,” the painful side effect of too much typing on Research In Motion’s keyboards.

Carolina Milanesi with Gartner says the iPhone’s touch screen cured that affliction and stole BlackBerry’s popularity.

Carolina Milanesi: Consumers and business users alike have been using touch more and more.

That means fewer and fewer customers have been using BlackBerrys. Research in Motion’s new CEO Thorsten Heins said this morning, instead of trying to beat Apple he wants to attract customers who have never bought a smartphone.

Thorsten Heins: We want to take them on a journey to explore more and more colorful smartphones.

Apple’s iPhone and many of Google’s Android phones have ditched the keyboard. Those operating systems now claim more more than 90 percent of the recent phone purchases; BlackBerry has only one in twenty.

Chris Green of Davies Murphy says, that’s a sea change from the early days.

Chris Green: RIM was a real pioneering organization. It actually managed to achieve with one device something no one else had done before.

Holdout BlackBerry users say they won’t give up the keyboard. It’s faster and less prone to errors. But even Research In Motion has come to grips with the touchscreen world. Carolina Milanesi says even Research in Motion has started adding touchscreens to its phones.

Milanesi: On the touch side there’s a lot of new technologies that are coming that will allow you to be more precise.

As more phone users begin opting for voice control like on the iPhone 4S, fewer may need keyboards at all.

I’m Jennifer Collins for Marketplace.

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