Will the Blackberry Bold Keep RIM Customers from Churning to Apple?

The new Apple iPhone is coming out on July 11th, and the media buzz surrounding its launch has been a bit over-the-top. It remains to be seen if the iPhone 3G will make as big a splash as some analysts say it will, but if does there could be disruptive consequences for its competitors. So who’s the most at risk? I took a look at OEM customers’ affinity for Apple to find out.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say that "affinity for Apple" equates to likelihood to visit apple.com. The chart below depicts the likelihood that owners of each company’s handsets go to apple.com. On this scale, the average Internet user would score a "1", meaning they are no more or less likely than anybody else online to visit apple.com. In contrast, as the chart below shows, owners of each OEM’s handsets are much more likely to visit apple.com.

  • All OEM owners are at least twice as likely to visit apple.com as the average Internet user. This is likely due to the tech-friendly nature of the majority of these OEMs’ user bases.
  • RIM owners are over 60% more likely to visit apple.com as compared to the other three OEMs listed.

Of these four OEMs, RIM (Blackberry) seems the most at risk by Apple’s mobile presence. Keep in mind that I didn’t look at exactly what these consumers were doing on the apple.com domain, nor did I look at behavior around any particular product launches which could alter these results significantly. However, just knowing that your customers are more than 60% more likely than your competitors’ customers to behave in ANY specific way is notable. What is it about Apple that’s drawing RIM customers in?

Industry analysts are predicting that Apple, by adding business-user functionality in the iPhone 3G, and RIM, with the introduction of the Blackberry Bold later this year, are on a collision course. The data above certainly point that way. Both companies launched strong marketing campaigns this year, and both appear to be pleasing Wall Street analysts. But successful launches of both the iPhone 3G and the Blackberry Bold will almost certainly mean that each company will draw business away from the other’s customer base. Who will win this grudge match? It looks like we could find out before the end of 2008.

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