∞ Apple vs. RIM: Who sells more smartphones?

Apple has clearly been upping its game when it comes to making the iPhone the most popular device on the market, but RIM is still making noise saying how good it is. I decided find out who was selling the most smartphones.

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]I looked at the last four fiscal quarters for Apple and RIM and get a feeling for which company was on the way up, or down, and who really did have the bragging rights.

Of course, fiscal quarters do not run like calendar quarters, so they are a bit off based on dates, but they are still pretty close. This isn’t meant to be scientific, but rather a look at four quarters to see how smartphone sales are trending.

There is one thing that should be pointed out. RIM’s numbers say shipped, while Apple’s are devices sold. RIM’s numbers could actually be the number of devices shipped to the channel, which means the actual number sold could be less.

RIM: Q1 2010 period ending May 29, 2010

Shipped 11.2 million devices

Apple: Q3 2010 period ending June 26, 2010

Sold 8.4 million iPhones

RIM: Q2 2010 period ending August 28, 2010

Shipped 12.1 million devices

Apple: Q4 2010 period ending September 25, 2010

Sold 14.1 million iPhones

RIM: Q3 2010 period ending November 27, 2010

Shipped 14.2 million devices

Apple: Q1 2010 period ending December 25, 2010

Sold 16.24 million iPhones

RIM: Q4 2010 period ending February 26, 2011

Shipped 14.9 million devices

Apple: Q2 2010 period ending March 26, 2011

Sold 18.65 million iPhones

RIM did have the advantage for the first fiscal quarter we looked at, but everything after that was clearly in favor of Apple.

For the year, RIM shipped 52.4 million devices. Apple topped them by shipping 57.39 iPhones. That’s about 5 million more iPhones sold than RIM shipped BlackBerrys.



  • Anonymous

    I suppose the shipped vs sold numbers would over time even out. One would also have to have inventory of unsold devices to figure out the trend.

    But then, Apple doesn’t have to worry about that number. They can’t make ’em fast enough.

    And I want to know why you hate America? 🙂

  • Steve

    Apple’s reported numbers are shipped too, it’s just that they’re supply constrained so the two coincide.

  • Ckmic101

    I guess .. when each Apple user has 3 or 4 apple devices the numbers tend to go up … Apple is very unique in that is has a cult following … I would be interested to see unique subscribers – I know I have had my BB for 4 years – no need to replace i t work s great … I did just by the PB and love it … had the iPad for 1 month and sold it …

    I know folks who will go buy a brand new iPhone even though they just bought one 5 months ago? from a business perspective I respect what Apple has done here … very impressive and something every business should aspire to – it is marketing genius … I don’t necessarily think it speaks to product supremacy however …

    I must admit – one week with the BB PB and I know this is a keeper – very solid device with true utility for me as a business person

    • GC

      “I must admit – one week with the BB PB and I know this is a keeper – very solid device with true utility for me as a business person”

      In what respect. The device is missing the three most important apps a “business person” would need, email, calendar and contacts. As it stands now the only thing it is capable of is web browsing.

      • Anonymous

        Furthermore, what buffoon would admit they are a “business person”. It’s a way of getting stoned these days. Consumers don’t want to hear what a business person wants. Consumers make their own choices. And business people don’t buy their own stuff. They wait for their “sugar daddy” corporation to buy stuff for them. It keeps them slaves to the grind.

        • noname

          consumers should listen to what they want, not what everyone else wants. that is true crowd mentality and it is damaging.

      • Player_16

        Aww; you shouldn’t diss this persons buying decision on what works for him. To clue you in, the Playbook is a accessory to his Blackberry.

      • The PB has all of that…when tethered to a BlackBerry so for now, most of their sales are coming from existing BB owners.

    • Anonymous

      “when each Apple user has 3 or 4 apple devices the numbers tend to go up “

      What’s more interesting is to follow what happens to each of those devices. Mine get passed on to others and are still in use today. This holds true for my original iPhone as well as older iPods.

      “Apple is very unique in that is has a cult following”

      What’s more interesting is just how many cult followers they have and how fast the cult is growing. iOS users are at about 200 Million now, right?

      “from a business perspective I respect what Apple has done here … very impressive and something every business should aspire to – it is marketing genius”

      Yeah, you have to give their marketing department credit. Not only have they fooled the users, but they’ve managed to fool the reviewers of the products as well. Talk about a reality distortion field… 😉

      “I don’t necessarily think it speaks to product supremacy however “

      Maybe not. Perhaps a more reliable measure of product supremacy would be disgruntled forum posters.

  • Anonymous

    Just got back from the Futureshop. I was none too impressed with this PlayBook thing RIM is trying to sell. Feeble attempt at competing with the iPad. As far as the numbers go, let’s not forget how little RIM is making per unit. There is a good analysis of the RIM direction from a Dec 2010 article here———–> http://www.businessinsider.com/whats-really-wrong-with-blackberry-2010-12

  • Far more important: who is making more money.

  • Dino

    I love this blog, but this post is written in such a bias way. You make it seem like Apple is significantly ahead of RIM. 5 million is a pretty small number. That’s less than a 10% divide between the two companies.

    Many people commented that that Apple is supply constrained, which is true, but also interesting. How is a company that is so good at what they do not able to meet supply, when their biggest competitor (which is a relatively small company by comparison – in total company wide revenue dollars and available cash) is able to easily supply almost the same number of devices? I think the real answer is not that Apple is actually supply constrained, but that they are constraining supply. There is no good reason that a company with Apple’s amount of available funds and power cannot meet the demand for its products. They’re doing it on purpose. (Which is a good marketing move, I guess).

    Donald’s comment about making more money is true from a business perspective, but not necessarily from a general perspective. Especially given ckmic101’s comment about each user having multiple devices. This would indicate that in terms of number of actual users (aka market penetration), RIM is likely significantly superior.

    I love Apple, and this post actually opened my eyes to how well RIM is actually doing. I thought they would be way further behind.

    • Player_16

      Just remember, Apple only have ONE smart phone that soo many people want and RIM has many different shipping models: some are selling like hotcake while others, not so much which means RIM’s shipping numbers are quite smooth.

  • plist

    As soon as someone says Apple’s success is due to “marketing genius,” you can be sure that person does not know what he is talking about.

    • Actually, there is a fair amount of truth to that. Apple releases a product when technology, design, hardware, software, manufacturing and marketing are all ready. RIM’s first ad for the Playbook showed up after the product was released. Furthermore, RIM positions their tablet as a secure, business device. Yet it is called …. the Playbook. Never mind genius, some basic branding acumen would serve RIM well. All to say, marketing is indeed another factor for the diverging trajectories of the two companies.

  • Peanutscbrule

    I have a Blackberry right now, but I’m TOTALLY GONE when iPhone 5 comes out and never going back.

  • Jth9234

    From a business perspective no one is better than Apple right now. They can have many iPhone fans convinced to buy a new iPhone every year, instead of every two years when contracts generally come up with the carriers.

    It is the only phone I can think of that can generate that kind of buzz. You would have to think its only a matter of time before Apple overtakes RIM in installed user base. The iPhone is marketed better and is more intuitive for consumers in general.

    The iPhone5 will be a media event even if it adds no practical features and people will be lining up to get one. I mean RIM recently released the BB Style??? WTF was that? A flip phone Blackberry? Seriously? They need to stick with form factor of a solid build with the great keyboard, albeit small screen like the Bold, Tour, Curve, etc. Or make more BB’s like the Torch, slider keyboard, touchscreen, trackpad, and a full QWERTY keyboard, thats a helluva phone.

    I am a Blackberry guy myself, luv the email, messaging, QWERTY keyboard is so much better to type on, the battery life is great (probably bc they don’t run flash and generally have slightly slower processors), this may sound like I should be on a RIM commercial but having peace of mind on security issues too in what sites I browse. Also the constant tweaks, updates, tricks, I learn from Crackberry.com I find interesting.

  • Phinsxiii

    Shipped DOES NOT mean sold. This is the same mistake Samsung made on reporting their tablet numbers.

  • Jth9234

    If this was a discussion about which stock I would rather own right this minute, its Apple hands down over RIM. But the sheer number of BB users out there, myself included, and the fact that the BB’s are still moving at a very high rate, show that there is still a huge market for them.

    I know an iPhone fan may say well thats the equivalent of “Eat shyt, 10 billion flies can’t be wrong”. lol But seriously, the BB is still a damn good smartphone and being almost all of them have solid physical keyboards and iPhone designs have never changed in 4 years with touch screen only, I think there will continue to be a huge market for them.

    Overly simple, but honestly would your rather message/text/email on a QWERTY keyboard thumbing very quickly or on a touch screen only phone where you are more prone to miss a key since you cannot feel it and take longer and probably correct more mistakes?

    My point is for many practical people, BB’s are still better phones for them. Yea, the iPhone has the better apps, more powerful processor, better for media, and better games. BB’s though are better for messaging, email, texting, significantly better battery life, and come in several form factors to fit your own preference.

    What the iPhone needs is a slider keyboard…