I read an article earlier today about how companies are preparing for a possible demise of RIM and couldn’t help but compare RIM’s decline over only a few years compared to how long it’s taking IE to disappear.

To confirm that there is in fact a difference in behavior, we can compare the RIM share among smartphones and IE share among browsers. Turns out that they are noticeably different: IE is on a linear decline with close to 70% in Q3 2008 but around 36% in Q1 2012 while RIM starts at 16% in Q3 2008, goes up to a high of 21% in 2009 and then drops to 7% in Q1 2012. Plotting their % decline since the data starting point highlights this further. If we calculate the average decline per quarter from their highest levels and try to see how long it will take to hit 0% share, IE will take almost 4 years while RIM will take less than 5 quarters.

Why are they so different? If they’re both in the enterprise why don’t we see a similar decline in both? I was able to think of a few reasons but would love to hear what others think.

  • RIM’s competition has been much stronger - both Apple and Android have been eating up the share at a massive rate while the browser market has been relatively stable. This is compounded by smartphones being a new, quickly evolving industry where people are upgrading phones as frequently as they can.
  • Guy Kawasaki says that companies should focus on making their product 10 times better than the existing competition in order to get adoption. This may be a lot easier to accomplish with smartphones than with browsers.
  • Browsers are an older industry and there’s no point in even doing this comparison. We should do this analysis when the smartphone market is more mature and we can normalize the two time frames.

I tried digging in a bit further but it’s unfortunate how difficult it is to find browser market share data. I’d love to dive in and look at the trend in the browser market since the 1990s and see how that compares to the trend in smartphones. If anyone has this data please let me know.

Here’s the Google spreadsheet if you want to play around with the data.

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