North American investors have been keen on RIM’s announced plans to expand into new markets like China and Japan. However, that doesn’t mean that RIM is going to have an easy time stealing market share from entrenched Japanese device manufacturers. For example, take a look at this device and tell me if there is a BlackBerry out there (released or rumored) that competes with it in terms of form and functionality.
Also, take a look at these encouraging words from longtime Japanese market observer Eurotechnology:
“According to our information BlackBerry will not allow Japanese language input [and] apparently BlackBerry will not support i-mode. Lack of i-Mode automatically cuts BlackBerry out of Japan’s mainstream… Finally, Japanese mobile phones with added software already provide most functions of a BlackBerry (and a lot more functions which BlackBerries cannot do).”
Eurotechnology’s recommendation for RIM to survive in a tough Japanese market is pretty simple: investment.
“The key issue will be whether RIM invests sufficiently to succeed in Japan. Foreign telecom firms – including some of the most famous – have a record of under investing in Japan, and as a consequence to fail, or to remain trapped with a 0.5 percent market share.”
For now, we can do nothing more than keep an eye on RIM’s actions to see if there committed to succeeding in Japan.