Blackberry and iPhone in Different Classes: Analysts

on January 29 2007 5:01 PM

Shares of Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM), maker of the Blackberry hand held device have plummeted since Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) announced its entry into the consumer phone segment early January. Some experts feel that the new phone isn't a threat to RIM, however, issuing a buy for RIMM shares.

Apple's announcement of the iPhone at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco earlier this month troubled some RIMM investors. Believing that Apple's new phone - capable of calls, music, and internet - would corner the market, shares of RIMM have fallen nearly $20, shedding $3.78 billion off RIMM's value. Some experts said on Monday, however that Apple's entry will have little effect.

We would strongly assert that the iPhone is likely to have immeasurable effect on BlackBerry sales this year, and unlikely to become a growth headwind for RIMM for many years, if ever, said Rob Sanderson of American Technology Research. It's simple in our view: the target user is very different.

Sanderson said that while both phones cater to a higher-end consumer, the iPhone is a robust multi-media device while the Blackberry is built for business.

It is well understood that a new Range Rover does not impact Lexus sales, Sanderson explained. Though they are both luxury vehicles, the gas-guzzling SUV is twice the price and has different appeal than the sedan.

Vivek Arya of Merrill Lynch echoed the notion, saying that the blackberry targets users that need a device that can handle a lot of messaging, while the iPhone is for multimedia.

The analyst reiterated his BUY rating on RIMM with a $165 price target. Sanderson reiterated his BUY rating as well, targeting $175.

RIM shares fell 0.58 percent, or 73 cents to close $124.63 in Monday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Exchange while Apple shares gained 56 cents, or 0.66 percent to close at $85.94.

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