Enterprise iPhone Forecast Might Finally Sound BlackBerry’s Death Knell

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We might look back on this week as the beginning of the end for Research In Motion and its once-great BlackBerry smartphone. But that’s actually a glass-half-full way of looking at it. Many industry insiders wrote RIM/BlackBerry off years ago when Apple’s iPhone and smartphones using Google’s Android operating system started dominating the wireless market.

A new forecast for the enterprise space seems to finally put a fork in RIM. In a new report, research firm IDC says businesses are buying iPhones “in droves,” and Apple’s iconic device will become the smartphone of choice in the enterprise for years to come, according to Computerworld. BlackBerry has, by most estimates, held onto a lead among enterprises despite floundering in the consumer market, until recently.

IDC predicts Apple will ship approximately 69 million iPhones for business use by 2016. Android, which is expected to have shipped more 87 million “corporate liable” devices those purchased directly by businesses and 15 million “employee-liable” (BYOD) devices by the end of 2012, will see a decline over the next few years because of a “fragmented ecosystem” that results in too many business security concerns.

BlackBerry led the way in 2011 with 22.4 million corporate-liable shipments, IDC said a number that is expected to continue to decline in the face of growing competition from Apple.

“BlackBerry continues to be the gold standard for security,” IDC said in the report, but essentially, people just don’t like them as much as iPhones and Androids, “hinder[ing] its viability going forward.”

Government agencies around the world recently have made news for their decisions to dump BlackBerry for the iPhone for a number of reasons. The same can be said for private businesses large and small.

RIM’s last hope might be BlackBerry 10. The new operating system is set to debut on a handful of new devices on Jan. 30, 2013. And not everyone is down on the company’s new effort. Jeffries & Co. recently upgraded its rating for RIM’s stock, helping it cross the $10 mark for the first time in five months. The firm, basing its predictions on positive BlackBerry 10 reactions from telecom carriers, says RIM could get as high as $43 over the next year if BB10 hits its mark.

At this point, the best RIM can probably hope for is to challenge Microsoft’s Windows Phone for third place in OS market share. But even that will be a challenge, as some analysts have predicted Windows Phone will pass Apple’s iOS for second by 2017. Looking into their crystal balls, many insiders have suggested RIM will be on the auction block in 2013.

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