Research In Motion has been impacted by the launch of Apple's iPhone 4S and faces slowing sales of BlackBerry OS 7 devices ahead of its massive smartphone refresh sometime in 2012, according to a new analyst report.
"With the launch of the iPhone 4S, increasingly price-competitive Android smartphones, improving Windows smartphones, and the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, we anticipate increasing competition across all tiers of RIM's products in [calendar year] 2012," Canaccord Genuity analyst T. Michael Walkley wrote in a co-authored Nov. 17 research note.
Some of that competition may already be affecting sales of BlackBerry devices, Walkley said. "While our September/October checks indicated solid sales of new BlackBerry OS 7 models, especially the Bold 9000 series as an upgrade enterprise sale, our recent checks indicate slowing sales trends post the launch of the iPhone 4S and price reductions of the iPhone 4 and 3GS," he said.
RIM is prepping a line of "superphones," running a "BBX" operating system based on QNX, for release sometime in 2012. A wide-ranging software update for its PlayBook tablet, including integrated email, will appear sometime in February.
"We expect BBX BlackBerry devices shipping around mid-[calendar year] 2012," Walkley wrote. "As a result, we anticipate slowing high-end BlackBerry sales at both the enterprise and consumer channels over the next several quarters."
At least one of those devices could feature a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 8-megapixel rear camera, an ultra-thin body, and a touch-screen sans physical QWERTY keyboard. At least, that's according to a leaked device image published on The Verge, which then suggested the smartphone (codenamed "London," and apparently due to arrive on store-shelves in June 2012) is "roughly the same size as a Galaxy S II."
RIM has offered precious few details about BBX's user interface. According to an Oct. 18 statement released by the company, the operating system will "support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook ... including native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps." That suggests BBX will interoperate with RIM's PlayBook tablet.
Research firm Nielsen estimated RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market at 18 percent through August, behind both Google Android (43 percent) and Apple iOS (28 percent) but well ahead of Microsoft (8 percent).