Apple has knocked off Research in Motion as the top smartphone provider in Canada for the first time. Canadians have remained loyal to RIM through some hard times over the past few years but the troubled company based in Waterloo, Ontario wasn’t able to fend off Cupertino in 2011.

RIM shipped 2.08 million Blackberry devices in Canada last year, compared with 2.85 million iPhones in the same time frame. This is in stark contrast to 2010 where RIM sold over half a million more handsets than Apple. In 2008, Blackberry phones outsold the iPhone by nearly a five to one ratio. Bloomberg notes that sales in Canada represent about seven percent of the company’s total revenue.

As one of the largest global brands to emerge from Canada, RIM has enjoyed local support which makes it even more troubling that an outsider has overtaken them on their home turf. The downturn can be credited to any number of factors, but Alfred DuPuy from research firm Interbrand hit the nail on the head when he essentially said RIM didn’t invest enough in promoting their devices once the iPhone shipped.

It will be up to RIM’s new CEO Thorsten Heins to try and steer the company back in the right direction. RIM plans to give prototype Blackberry 10 devices to developers in May so they can get started on producing apps for the new operating system set for release this fall.