BlackBerry Sales Softening Worldwide: Analyst

RIM's BlackBerry sales are deteriorating outside the United States, suggests a new analyst report. That puts more pressure on BlackBerry 10 to succeed.

Research In Motion and its BlackBerry franchise face softening interest in its current handsets, according to a new analyst report. That puts more pressure on BlackBerry 10, its next-generation mobile platform, to succeed in the marketplace.

€œWe believe RIM€™s low-end handset sales trends have continued to deteriorate in North America, Latin America and Europe,€ Peter Misek an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a co-authored March 1 research note. €œIn particular, sales in Europe decreased significantly towards the end of the quarter. We believe this is very negative as sales outside of the U.S. had typically been more resilient.€ However, his checks indicated that BlackBerry sales in Asia remained €œokay.€

Meanwhile, Misek also felt that BlackBerry€™s higher-end devices face a continuing challenge from the iPhone and Android. €œWe believe the iPhone 5 launch (we expect end of Q2/Q3) ahead of the BB10 launch (we expect Sep) will be particularly troubling,€ he wrote. €œThe BB10 will also have to compete head-to-head in H2 with Microsoft/Nokia as the Windows 8 platform attempts to become the #3 player.€

RIM has been encouraging third-party developers to build apps for its PlayBook, which relies on the same QNX code base as BlackBerry 10; in theory, apps built for the tablet will port over to the smartphone platform with relatively little fuss. But RIM will need much more than a robust apps ecosystem if it wants BlackBerry 10 to successfully push back against Apple€™s iPhone, Google Android, and Windows Phone.

A Feb. 13 posting on the CrackBerry blog suggested that BlackBerry 10 will feature home-screen €œwidgets€ reminiscent of Windows Phone€™s Live Tiles, a tray with smart icons capable of displaying information, a universal inbox and perhaps video chat.

RIM fully intends to double down on BlackBerry 10. €œOur checks indicate RIM is likely to move away from a proposal to the Board that RIM license BB10 to Samsung and launch a new BBM, email, and social networking app for iOS/Android for a monthly fee,€ Misek wrote in a Febuary research note. The new plan, he added, will center on RIM competing against €œApple, Android and Windows ecosystems with their own integrated hardware/software/services ecosystem.€

For some time, RIM executives have touted BlackBerry 10 as a game-changer. If the operating system doesn€™t succeed, however, RIM will likely need to ask some very hard questions about its own future.

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