December 29, 2011, 8:00 AM — This is the ninth post for "My personal, hand-selected top 11 tech stories of 2011." You can read the first eight by clicking on the links at the bottom.
A lot happened to the major smartphone players this year, and that's not even counting all the patent lawsuits mentioned here.
Here's how the year went down for Apple, Google, Nokia and Research in Motion, in descending order of disastrousness.
Research in Motion: A profile in denial
In December 2010, Research in Motion reported a 58% increase in fiscal third-quarter earnings, fueled by record shipments of its flagship BlackBerry smartphone.
But the company was in trouble. It continued to lose smartphone market share to Google's Android, particularly in the U.S. And while global smartphone sales were expected to increase for at least the next several years, serious loss of market share is indicative of fundamental problems, and also can spiral into something much worse.
Like RIM's 2011. A sample:
That pretty much summed up RIM's year (and I didn't even get into the PlayBook, since this post is about smartphones). Yet, unlike HP's Leo Apotheker and Nokia's Stephen Elop -- each of whom made dramatic strategic moves in 2011 to reverse their companies' declining fortunes -- RIM co-chief executives Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis have done little other than to assure shareholders that RIM's big comeback is right around the corner with the release of its next smartphone or tablet or mobile operating system. Right around the corner!