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RIM shot?

Although not everyone realised it at the time, the release of the iPhone in 2007 amounted to a genuine revolution in the mobile phone market. And revolutions tend to elevate certain players and punish others. In the case of the iPhone, the obvious winner was Apple, but also Google, whose Android operating system has gone down well with consumers who the iPhone convinced needed a smartphone.

And the losers? One, surely, is Nokia, which has had to throw its home-grown software Symbian in the bin - and sack thousands of people working on it - and join Microsoft's Windows Phone system to compete. And then there's Research in Motion. RIM, as they're commonly known, are the people behind the most successful smartphone brand of the pre-iPhone era, the BlackBerry. But if you look at a BlackBerry now and compare it to one pre-iPhone, you'll see not much has changed. And that's surely a problem.

RIM placed a lot of its new-era hopes not on phones, but on a tablet - the Playbook. After a long incubation period, the Playbook was finally released last month. So, how's it doing? According to financial results released by RIM this week, they've shipped 500,000 Playbooks to retailers - a respectable number, but hardly up there with the millions of iPad 2s shifted. More worryingly, they didn't say how many of those 500,000 had actually been sold to consumers, meaning lots could be sitting in shop warehouses due to be heavily discounted later on.

What's more, the company said its revenues for the last quarter-year were down 10% on the same quarter last year, and as a result it's going to need to make some redundancies. All in all, we'd have to say that though RIM could be on the verge of a turnaround, it looks an awful lot like their status as the losers in the smartphone revolution is going to continue.

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