(Corrects story published at April 2 to say BlackBerry sold one million BB10 phones in the quarter.) NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- In the first seasons of the CBS (CBS) legal drama The Good Wife, the characters are always checking their BlackBerrys (BBRY). They call, they text, they scroll through lists of messages. The subliminal message was that BlackBerrys were the "lawyers' phone," a serious tool for serious people.
By the show's second season specialty phones like the Blackberry were already giving way to the more general smartphone, starting with the iPhone, which later found its doppelganger in the Google (GOOG) Android. Other operating systems collapsed, including BlackBerry, whose market share fell to 3.5% by the fourth quarter of 2012.
But could the specialty phone be coming back? Our Ronald Gruia reports that BlackBerry is rising again. BBRY reported sales of one million of its new phones, its BB10, in the quarter. They make other phones, and this doesn't include those sales.
Ronald writes that the quick ramp-up of a new BB10 ecosystem may be behind the fast start, but fast is relative in the phone world. A million phones may represent just a .25% share of the market, based on Gartner's market estimates for last year's fourth quarter.What is most interesting about the Gartner numbers, in retrospect, isn't just that BlackBerry's one million sales for this year's first quarter wouldn't even make the main vendor list. The smallest maker listed by name is Motorola, which sold 7.8 million units during the quarter. For me the big news is that the percentage of "other" actually increased, from 31.6% to 33.6%, year-to-year. If "other" really is returning to prominence, maybe Facebook (FB) has a chance. The company has sent all media an invitation to drop by its headquarters Thursday to see its "new home on Android," leading to speculation a new phone is coming. (TheVerge.Com has many guesses about what might be coming). As I noted last week, Facebook is as much a gaming platform as a social platform. A mobile device that had technology to make gamers go "wow," and was linked to a powerful gaming network, sounds like something that could deliver some profitable market share.
The "platform wars" concerning mobility seem pretty much finished. Gartner's numbers have Apple's iOS and Google's Android commanding over 90% of the market between them. But, partly because Google's platform is so open, that could mean differentiation has just begun.
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