Research In Motion came out guns blazing at its annual Blackberry World event in Orlando, Fla., this week in order to prove its still got game in the consumer electronics industry.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based manufacturer introduced two new Blackberry Bold smartphones with 4G, augmented reality and NFC capabilities with both featuring the Blackberry 7 operating system. In addition, the company brought out Steve Ballmer, chief executive of Microsoft, and announced future Blackberry/Playbook integration with Microsoft's Bing search engine. For the Playbook, it announced the integration of Flash capabilities, video chat capabilities and a Facebook app. It even said the popular game, Angry Birds, is now available for the tablet.
The flurry of announcements comes at a critical time for RIM. On Friday, the company adjusted the amount of Blackberries it expected to sell in the current fiscal quarter, lowering its guidance as a result going from $1.47-$1.55 for projected earnings per share to $1.30-$1.37 per share. The result was its stock sank, dropping 14.77 percent, or $7.95 per share, from Thursday's closing price of $53.84 per share.
Unsurprisingly, a number of financial analysts became leery of RIM after the guidance was lowered. A few of them, such as National Bank financial analyst Kris Thompson, lost confidence in the company all together. We don't see this as a one-time miss, noted Thompson, who also lowered his rating on the company.
At a meeting with analysts, RIM chief executive Jim Balsillie, continued the company's aggressive theme of the week by directly addressing the financial world. If you want an apology for being late on some of our products, I can give that to you, but it's not because we weren't working hard. It's because we wanted to bring the best possible product to market, Balsillie said in a meeting with analysts.
Most analysts continue to doubt in the company can remain a player in the mobile device market. Many were hoping to see a quicker timeline on smartphones using the QNX operating system, which is found in the Playbook tablet.
Mike Lazaridis, co-chief executive of RIM, made a comment that the company intends to merge the BlackBerry and QNX platforms before introducing the QNX smartphones in 2012. This did not win it any kudos from the analyst community.
With recent spotty execution, slower international growth and new QNX handsets still 9-12 months away, we think the next few quarters could be rough as RIMM competes with older and evolutionary products, Stephen Patel, analyst at Gleacher & Co., said in a note.
Jefferies & Co analyst Peter Misek was in the same camp. There were no clear indications of when QNX would finally arrive, and we believe the new moniker signals a longer-than-expected commitment to OS 7 before transitioning to a QNX-based platform, Misek wrote in a research note.
According to research from NPD Group, sales of Blackberry phones declined five percent during the frist three months of 2011. Gartner expects RIM's market share to go from 16 percent in 2010 to 11.5 percent in 2011.
RIM's stock has remained relatively stable since its big drop last week.