Technically, BlackBerry is still the world smartphone leader, with some 40% of the market. But for all practical purposes, the new race for dominance is between iPhone and Android, which are neck-to-neck with 20-something shares. If you doubt that, look at the run on Verizon iPhones today: Verizon sold its entire stock in a pre-sale before the sun even came up. BlackBerry’s major advantage — its superior texting capabilities — are rapidly becoming irrelevant in a world where predictive texting, Swype and other emerging text input methods are making touch-screens the equals of QWRTY keyboards. How long until BlackBerry becomes the next Palm? Or at least the next Nokia?
Apple now faces an interesting dilemma in the U.S.: stick with Verizon and retain the patina of exclusivity that made iPhones such hot items on AT&T; or blast the iPhone to as many carriers as possible to win the numbers game over Android (as in Europe). For now, conventional wisdom has it taking the first course, as it worked superbly before and Steve Jobs isn’t around to rock the strategic boat.