New BlackBerry Fails to Impress as RIM Shares Plummet
They were once a titan in the smartphone market, but increasingly it appears as though BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIM) will go the way of the Titanic. Recent reports relate that company shares hit an eight-year low on Thursday just days after a major product unveiling.
Thorsten Heins, the RIM CEO who replaced previous co-chief executives Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie in January, on Tuesday unveiled a new BlackBerry at the company’s annual BlackBerry World conference in Orlando. Featuring a touchscreen interface, the new BlackBerry represents a major shift for a company whose bread and butter has been the physical QWERTY keyboard.
Besides the change in UI, Heins also stunned experts by failing to provide a clear timeline for touchscreen BlackBerrys or BlackBerry 10, the firm’s new and hotly-anticipated mobile software platform.
For Jeffries analyst Peter Misek, that indicates RIM is a long way’s off from releasing the new hardware or software. Given that disappointment, it’s no surprise that RIM’s share has plummeted in recent days, falling an estimated 15 per cent during that short period.
Any extended delay in the release of these products could be devastating for RIM, whose market share been cut in half this past year. A series of disappointing product launches – most notably the failed PlayBook experiment — have put the Waterloo, Canada-based firm in a tough position.
Until RIM comes out with a winning product, it’s unlikely consumer confidence in the brand name will be restored. That’s why it’s devastating to hear Misek’s prediction that RIM may not be ready with a new BlackBerry or BlackBerry 10 until the fall, or later.
But there is hope: some experts have said they’re impressed with some of the new features found in BlackBerry 10, including a messaging system that makes sending emails and IMs easier by using stored typing behavior.
“RIM’s sneak peek of the new BlackBerry 10 shows the company is focused on details that differentiate meaningfully,” said Gartner analyst, Mike Gartenberg. “But the key will be shipping and execution.”