Android Usurped by Apple in Q4, RIM Drowns in Sales and Security Leaks

Android continues to rule the roost in the smartphone segment, in terms of sheer numbers at least, but Apple’s iPhone 4S launch bucked the overall trend in Q4 2011 with huge demand almost outweighing new Android sales. The figures, collected by Nielsen, suggest over 46-percent of US smartphone owners used an Android device in the final quarter of 2011, compared to 30-percent using an iPhone. However, by December, almost 45-percent of new smartphone buyers opted for one of Apple’s handsets.

The iPhone 4S launch, it’s suggested, ate heavily into Android sales demand. iPhone purchases kicked off at 25.1-percent for new buys in October 2011, with Android phones monopolizing sales at 61.6-percent, but Apple demand grew to 38.8-percent and then 44.5-percent in November and December respectively, while Android demand dipped to 48.7-percent and 46.9-percent of new buyer acquisitions in the final two months of the year.

As for other platforms, RIM’s market share for BlackBerry devices sits at 14.9-percent among all smartphone owners, though demand in Q4 was down to just 6-percent for those shopping for handsets during that period. Windows Phone is even less at 1.3-percent, with a slight uptick in Q4 interest, while Symbian, webOS and Windows Mobile all saw dwindling interest.

Samsung denies any interest in buying RIM

As you can see, RIM is still in deep trouble regarding its positioning in the mobile marketplace.  Some say it’d be a good idea for RIM to sell off its company or some of its components, with Samsung being the latest rumored interested buyer. But Samsung Electronics reiterates it has “never” considered buying the Canadian mobile-phone maker, and there has been no contact between the two companies, James Chung, a spokesman for Samsung, said.  Chung went on to clarify that Samsung also isn’t interested in using RIM’s software through a licensing deal.

RIM advanced to $17.47 at the close in New York trading Tuesday after the BGR blog reported Samsung may be interested in buying the company and that no deal has been made because Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is asking too much. The blog didn’t identify its sources. Shares in RIM dropped 75 per cent last year as the company lost market share to Apple and Android- device makers including Samsung but Tenille Kennedy, a spokeswoman for RIM, declined to comment on the report Tuesday.

RIM troubled with PlayBook vulnerability

On the other hand, Research in Motion may have improved its overall experience on the PlayBook with its recent update, but security researchers recently revealed that the device leaves corporate email and user information open to potential hackers. Researchers Zach Lenier and Ben Nell of Intrepidus Group uncovered a vulnerability in the PlayBook’s Bridge application that leaves the authentication token for the Bridge application somewhere anyone could dig it up.

The Bridge application lets you connect the PlayBook to a BlackBerry smartphone via Bluetooth. It is currently necessary to connect to your BlackBerry with Bridge if you want to access your corporate email and calendars using the tablet. While the connection itself remains secure, the .ALL file contains access to the BlackBerry Bridge token, your BBM user name and information, your bookmarks, and other information specific to the device and its user.

When the research team announced the Bridge exploit at a computer security conference on January 12, Research in Motion released a statement that included a promise to fix the exploit in the PlayBook 2.0 update coming in February. From the statement:

The BlackBerry PlayBook issue described at the Infiltrate security conference has been resolved with BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, which is scheduled to be available as a free download to customers in February 2012. There are no known exploits, and risk is mitigated by the fact that a user would need to install and run a malicious application after initiating a BlackBerry Bridge connection with their BlackBerry smartphone.