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RIM and Apple increasingly becoming the face of smartphones for consumers

MONTREAL - BlackBerrys and iPhones have become the face of the fast-growing smartphone market in North America, if not globally, as consumers take to these popular brands, analysts say.

MONTREAL - BlackBerrys and iPhones have become the face of the fast-growing smartphone market in North America, if not globally, as consumers take to these popular brands, analysts say.

Canadian consumers are so taken with the new, more powerful iPhone 3GS that there's a shortage at a majority of Rogers and Fido retail stores and the device is sold out online.

"Rogers has placed orders for continuous shipments of inventory and backorders will be filled on a priority basis," spokeswoman Carly Suppa said Tuesday.

Rogers (TSX:RCI.B) is the exclusive carrier of the iPhone in Canada and it has the only network capable of running the touchscreen smartphone.

IDC Canada analyst Analyst Kevin Restivo said consumers like the iPhone and the BlackBerry because they know the brands and the devices are attractive.

"I think it's fair to say that RIM and Apple will lead the market in the foreseeable future," Restivo said from Toronto.

This is despite Finland's Nokia being the No. 1 smartphone player globally, Restivo said.

RIM and Apple and RIM shipped 21.2 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively, of the world's smartphones in the first quarter of this year, IDC said. RIM and Apple were No. 1 and 2 respectively in North America.

Restivo said the iPhone 3GS has been in short supply for at least the last six weeks in Canada, but he doesn't expect the shortage to be lengthy.

"I'd be surprised if we didn't see a steady flow of iPhones into Canada by early September," said Restivo, senior analyst of mobility research.

Technology analyst Carmi Levy said Apple and RIM deserve to have high profiles.

"RIM and Apple have collectively done more to create and grow the smartphone market than any other maker of handhelds," said Levy, senior vice-president of strategic consulting at Toronto's AR Communications Inc.

"Before RIM practically invented the category a decade ago, mobile devices were voice-only. More recently, Apple raised mobility to a high art by putting full-on computing capacity into your pocket," Levy said.

Apple has especially made software applications, such as games, maps and puzzles, popular with consumers, he added.

Both the iPhone and the BlackBerry have operating systems that allow them to run software applications created by independent developers.

But Levy said he doesn't believe it's a true shortage of iPhones and it's designed to create continued "buzz" around the product.

"I cannot believe that a company as sophisticated at selling as Apple would be caught surprised by demand," he said, noting that Apple has already acknowledged as much.

"The mere act of selling it exclusively maintains that demand and maintains that 'Got to have it' status."

It also has been reported there has been an iPhone shortage in Australia.

The older 3G iPhone, now priced at $99 on a three-year plan, is sold out online too, but may be available at retail stores across Canada, Suppa said. It was launched in July 2008.

Bell announced on Tuesday that it expects "unprecedented demand" by consumers for Palm's Pre smartphone when it becomes available on Aug. 27.

Bell said consumers can pre-order online or at stores.

 
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