RIM Hurt by Aging Smartphones, New Product Delays
Caris and Co.'s Robert Cihra said he shaved a penny off of his FY12 EPS estimate to $6.70, which is still well short of RIM's reaffirmed guidance of $7.50 for the full fiscal year. While he expects BlackBerry refreshes starting this summer, such as the Bold Touch, Torch 2 and multiple new Curves, he's concerned that RIM will not launch QNX-based, dual-core smartphones until early 2012.Gleacher & Co.'s Stephen Patel wrote in his research note that while RIM's PlayBook and other forthcoming phones look compelling from a hardware perspective and also include substantial OS upgrades, he does not believe the company can address its ecosystem shortcomings in applications with the same ease. "The QNX-based smartphones will be able to run Android applications, but this functionality will not be available on Blackberry 7.0. As consumers increasingly desire applications, the risk increases that RIM's UI and hardware improvements will not be enough to narrow the gap vs. Android and iPhone," Patel said. "Investors will remain skeptical until we see very tangible evidence that RIM can stabilize its market share and participate in smartphone industry growth," he concluded. Which leads us to our raft of speculation about RIM's roadmap heading into BlackBerry World. The majority of analysts expect to see BlackBerry OS 6.1 on existing or even prototypes of forthcoming devices, a lot of PlayBook demos and early versions of the company's Android and Java app players. To wit, Balsillie waxed enthusiastic about RIM's roadmap on the earnings shortfall call with analysts: "As we've said before we feel great about the BlackBerry platform and the PlayBook and how they're doing. We just need to have some newer, higher-end products in the market... This is a transition. We're cutting over to a whole new platform and whole new set of products and it's very powerful and we're very excited about their long-term strength and the long term strength of the company. We'll have a very exciting BlackBerry World next week." Still, only a company drunk with the mother of all hubris cocktails could announce such dire news and walk confidently into a developers' conference to discuss its roadmap going forward.
This "makes us question how excited users/carriers may be for this year's evolutionary OS 6.1 vs. waiting for the complete (and architecturally overdue) QNX-scaled re-write," Cihra added.