TORONTO — The smartphone turf war between Research in Motion and Apple Inc. will hit home for the BlackBerry maker on Saturday when the California-based technology giant opens its first retail store in RIM’s own backyard.
The new Apple Store in Waterloo, Ont. is about a 10 minute drive from RIM’s front steps, and carries with it an extra sting: it will be the local hub for the popular iPhone and iPad devices which have been the root of grief for RIM in recent months.
The two technology companies have been vying for the same trendy consumer base for several years, but a gloomier outlook has faced RIM (TSX:RIM) in recent months. Its share of the smartphone market has eroded as some customers migrate to Apple products, while others buy smartphones from other competitors.
Meanwhile, the debut of the PlayBook, its answer to Apple’s iPad, earlier this year was lacklustre both in terms of sales and critical reception.
While it was inevitable that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) would eventually set up shop in Waterloo, the technology capital of Canada, the timing could feel, to some, like a strategic move. This is Apple’s 20th store in Canada.
Last month, RIM announced plans to cut 2,000 jobs this year, about 11 per cent of its global workforce, to reduce costs and stay competitive. The majority of the layoffs will be in Waterloo.
The company has also accelerated plans for a new generation of BlackBerrys next year, and unveiled an upgrade to several existing models to come later this month. However, shares of the company still sit just a few dollars off an all-time low of $21.40, which some analysts say undervalues the company and could provide a buying opportunity for investors, or position RIM as a takeover target.