RIMM and its ubiquitous Blackberry is back in the financial news this week, after Goldman Sachs raised its target price on the Research in Motion to $163 from $148.
Why not? Cell phones, especially multi-functional ones like the Blackberry, are the bumper crop of this year's tech toy marketplace. And they're growing even more multi-functional. Says Strategy Analytics, in a new report out last week, cell phone heavyweights like Blackberry and Apple are pioneering fresh revenue streams for the mobile handset industry with their emerging push into value-added services such as navigation, email and music. Current revenues for all three vendors are modest, but growing.
Adds Tom Kang, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, “Nokia, Blackberry and Apple are among the first to realize that global handset revenues are approaching a peak; therefore fresh growth streams must be found in mobile services. A cocktail of promising applications for wireless consumers is already emerging, such as GPS navigation from Nokia, push-email from Blackberry and iTunes music from Apple.”
One potential trouble spot is the iPhone, which has experienced a decline in market share, especially relative to Research in Motion in the first quarter of 2008. According to the technology consulting and analytical firm International Data Corp (IDC), "Rim's share of the U.S. market for advanced phones with computer-like features such as e-mail rose to 44.5 percent in the first quarter from 35.1 percent in the fourth quarter, while iPhone's share fell to 19.2 percent from 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter."
Of course, Apple won't take that sitting down. Work is already underway on version 3G of the iPhone, which analysts are already buzzing about. But RIMM is also on the move, with the new Blackberry Bold and the new Blackberry Thunder touch-screen handheld device coming out in 2008.
Call it the Celtics vs. Lakers of the handheld marketplace. Apple is the stylish newcomer that has the prevalent buzz factor (like the Lakers) but RIMM (like the Celts) has history on its side and a competitive mean streak that Apple's going to have to match.
Should be fun to watch.