I could pretty much just post this chart and call it a day. The numbers are taken from the just released data from Quorus Consulting for Canadian statistics and from Nielson for the US numbers. It clearly shows the Canadian market in 2011 mirroring what the US looked like a year before.
So why the discrepancy? Well it’s likely a number of factors but ultimately it boils down to three; loyalty, pricing and marketing.
Loyalty is the obvious one, RIM is a Canadian company and people enjoy supporting a product of Canada. Also since so many businesses, schools and government are built around the blackberry it makes moving to an alternative more difficult.
Pricing is definitely another proponent of slowing down progress and has much to do with Canadian carriers and their three year contracts. I’m still on a contract from my 2008 purchase of a Windows Mobile HTC Touch Pro. To upgrade before August of 2011 I have had to buy my Android phone at full price.
It’s not just contract pricing but also device pricing that has helped Blackberry stay on top. RIM has done well due to inexpensive devices like the Curve and the Pearl. These devices were often given away for free with contract and offered a better experience than the competition could provide at that price point. But Canada is finally starting to get some inexpensive Android devices worth owning that offer the better experience in lower price bracket.
The biggest reason for the discrepancy is marketing and is something that Apple excels at. What has kept Android behind is the lack of centralized marketing. Google doesn’t push Android like Apple or RIM does with iOS and BlackBerry. It’s up to the carriers and manufacturers to do so and as a result the message is fairly fragmented.
It is in this very area that US differs drastically and is all thanks to Apple’s bad decision to limit the iPhone to AT&T. Verizon (AT&T’s biggest competitor) in an effort to stay relevant in the smartphone space heavily promoted Android. The Droid namesake was bought and sold by Verizon with a consistent message, Droid Does. The recent change in Apple’s approach which brought the iPhone to Verizon has done very little to slow Android down. The damage was down and it all started with the original Droid back in late 2009. It was the spark that lit the fire and brought Android to the mainstream and informed the masses of a true alternative to iOS.
No carrier in Canada has done for Android what Verizon did in the US. But with recent increases in Android alternatives on all Canadian carriers and no new iPhone in sight the summer of 2011 could turn out to be a big quarter for Android. I’ll have to come back to this next year and see just how much Canada has progressed.