Apple Takes More of World From RIM

WATERLOO, Ontario ( TheStreet) -- Research In Motion ( RIM), which reports its first-quarter results after market close on Thursday, is facing a global onslaught from Apple's ( AAPL) iPhone.

While Apple's deal with Verizon ( VZ) to sell a CDMA iPhone has grabbed plenty of attention stateside, the gadget maker has been quietly increasing its global reach via partnerships with the likes of South Korea Telecom and Saudi Telecom.
RIM BlackBerry Bold 9900

"We believe the company still remains in the early stages of the iPhone ramp around the world," said Ticonderoga Securities analyst White, pointing to IDC research that says that Apple has just 5% of the global mobile phone market.

Asia, in particular, is proving a happy hunting ground for Apple. During its recent fiscal second-quarter, the tech giant said that its iPhone sales more than doubled year-over-year in the Asia-Pacific region as the company continues to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of China's economic explosion. Greater China (which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan) now accounts for around 10% of the company's overall revenue, up from just 2% a couple of years ago.

At the end of the quarter, Apple sold the iPhone via 186 carriers in 90 countries, up from 151 carriers in 88 countries a year earlier.

In stark contrast, analyst firm Canaccord Genuity cut its RIM target price this week, citing share losses in North America and weakening international sales. "Given these trends, we anticipate weak August quarter guidance when RIM reports earnings Thursday after the close," said Canaccord analyst Mike Walkley, in a note released on Sunday.

Sales of RIM's BlackBerry Torch, according to Walkley, are slowing in Western Europe in the face of devices using Google's ( GOOG) Android operating system. In a separate note, Walkley also pointed to continued weakness in Latin America.

With RIM wrestling the effects of delayed product launches and intensifying competition, and rival Nokia ( NOK) struggling with a product refresh, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White notes the obvious: Apple is sitting pretty.

"The downfall of both RIM and Nokia are providing Apple with further opportunities for the iPhone to gain market share," he said in a note. "The ramp of the mobile Internet has driven increased innovation in the smartphone market, but the leaders of the past are the companies with the greatest challenges today."

The numbers are certainly compelling. Apple enjoyed record iPhone sales during its recent fiscal second-quarter, with shipments leaping a massive 113%, accounting for half of the firm's total revenue of $24.7 billion.

RIM, on the other hand, is rapidly losing share to Apple and Android. Investors are also dismayed by the fact that new superphones running the company's hyped QNX software won't hit the market until 2012.

Set against this backdrop, RIM has seen its stock slip almost 40% this year.

Apple has also slashed the gap on smartphone leader Nokia, according to tech research firm IDC. With 24.2 million smartphones shipped during the first quarter, Nokia remains at the head of the smartphone pack, although IDC recently reported that Apple is hot on the heels of the Finnish firm, recording record single-quarter shipments of 18.7 million devices

Nokia, for its part, is losing business during a major overhaul of its phones to operate on Microsoft's ( MSFT) Windows Phone 7 software.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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