Is four a crowd?

Poor Research in Motion can’t catch a break these days. From dismal earnings, to missed deadlines for BlackBerry OS 10, the company has largely been written off in many corners.

From an “ecosystem” perspective, the dust appears to be settling on the big three players in mobile, with Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android the obvious market leaders, and Microsoft’s Windows Phone occupying a distant third spot in the running. Most of those writing off RIM suggest the market simply can’t support a forth major mobile operating system.

What many forget as they automatically write off RIM and BlackBerry 10 was that market-dominating iOS was once the fourth player in a smartphone field dominated by BlackBerry OS, Microsoft’s Windows Mobile (the previous incarnation of Windows Phone) and Palm OS. That playing field has effectively been decimated, with Microsoft the only remaining entity, and their Windows Phone an upstart rather than key player.

While we’re certainly in a different mobile market than we were a decade ago when RIM, Microsoft, and Palm ruled the roost, I believe there’s still a chance for a well-positioned innovator to parlay fourth place into something more. RIM lacks Apple’s distinct advantage of having a hot-selling consumer device (the iPod) that was easy to transition into a phone, but they do have a recognizable brand and history in mobile.

While there’s a lot RIM has to do right to succeed, a long-shot based on recent history, I’m not quite ready to consign RIM to the mobile dust bin.


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