Is RIM on the ropes in healthcare, too?

By Brian Dolan

Brian Dolan, Editor, MobiHealthNewsBy many accounts BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion is on the ropes.

Early last year RIM's devices were far and away the most popular smartphones among US smartphone users. Analyst firm comScore found that the company had about 42 percent of the US smartphone market in February 2011. Apple, Google, Microsoft trailed.

Fast forward to July 2011: The Nielsen Company found that RIM's marketshare in the US among smartphone users has dropped to 19 percent. Nielsen also reported that the number of consumers with smartphones has jumped to 40 percent of all mobile device users in the US. Smartphone adoption was at about 16 percent at the end of 2009.

In June, just before the most recent Nielsen smartphone report came out, RIM lowered its earnings expectations, which are due out in a few days time.

While RIM has lost its lead to Apple and Android device makers in the consumer arena, by many accounts it still has a stronghold in the enterprise. That was certainly true for their adoption rate among US physicians as of May 2010. Back then, Manhattan Research found that US physicians used BlackBerry devices more than any other smartphone.

That lead didn't hold much longer.

Manhattan also noted last May that adoption of mobile devices was neck and neck with adoption of BlackBerry devices adoption among US docs. When it counted all Apple devices, meaning iPod touch devices and iPhones, the devices outnumbered BlackBerry device adoption among US physicians. In May of this year Manhattan reported that 75 percent of US physicians own some kind of Apple device (iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad). At the time 30 percent of US physicians already had iPads. RIM has not reported any adoption numbers among US physicians for its PlayBook tablet, but by some accounts adoption has been insubstantial.

Manhattan also noted in May of this year that Android devices are not faring much better than BlackBerry devices among US physicians. Interestingly, by our count the number of healthcare apps available for BlackBerry devices has tripled since last year. But the almost 1,000 health and fitness apps available to BlackBerry users today is still less than the number available to Android users this time last year. While it's not all about numbers, it's another sign that RIM has a ways to go to catch up.

At least one analyst believes RIM can still make a big comeback in the US.

"RIM is getting beaten up a lot, but I think people will give them another chance," Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney told PC World. "RIM has to get apps optimized for its environment and get the user interface right for touch. Do that well, and the people will come."