Yet one of the pioneers of this field, still regarded by many as a dominant player, has been a stumbling laggard for two years now: Research In Motion (RIMM - commentary - Trade Now). Despite the BlackBerry's efficiency and good looks (I am a loyal user myself), Research In Motion has fallen from grace in the eyes of investors. The company needs a new story to tell and needs it fast.
Apple (AAPL - commentary - Trade Now) CEO Steve Jobs recently spoke at the D Conference on a variety of issues. One comment I found very interesting concerned the future of the PC. He compared the PC to a truck in an early farming society. There was a time when everyone had a truck. Then cars arrived. And gradually, people stopped needing trucks. Mobile devices, like the iPhone and the iPad, in Jobs' view, will be the shiny new cars toward which we will soon gravitate. We will no longer be tethered to our desktop PCs to get access to the Web.
If you buy this -- and I do -- this should be a great thing for all mobile Internet providers. However, that's not what's happened. There have clearly been winners and losers. So far, Research In Motion has been one of the losers.
Apple unveiled the iPhone in January 2007. Since then, the company's stock is up 210%. Research In Motion's is up 32%. That's still much better than the older handset makers, such as Nokia (NOK -commentary - Trade Now), which is down 49%, Motorola (MOT - commentary - Trade Now), which is down 63%, and Palm (PALM - commentary - Trade Now), which is down 61%. Sure, Apple sells computers and iPods too, but, let's face it, the market has been most excited about Apple's mobile Internet opportunities since the iPhone launch.