Investors punished Research In Motion on Friday, driving the stock down 20 percent and raising fresh questions about whether management -- and even the company -- can overcome a raft of troubles.

The sell-off, which in the first hours of trade wiped out some $3 billion of RIM's market capitalization, underscored how bad times have become for the one-time smartphone leader, once a byword for corporate communication.

One analyst, Edward Snyder of Charter Equity Research, described the quarterly report issued by RIM on Thursday as another nail in the coffin of management, while others spoke of shock, disappointment and a ticking clock.

The report was chock-full of bad news from the maker of BlackBerry: It posted a sharp drop in quarterly profit, painted a dismal picture for the current quarter and said it now expects to reach only the lower end of an already reduced full-year outlook.

Moreover, it only reinforced a growing sense that the company is in danger of falling too far behind Apple Inc, with its iPhone and iPad, and a host of competitors making devices that run on Google Inc's Android software.

Investors are telling us that a change needs to happen very quickly. The market is saying that the management are not the right guys to lead the company going forward, said Barry Schwartz, vice president and portfolio manager at Baskin Financial Services.

Run by co-founder Mike Lazaridis and salesman sidekick Jim Balsillie, who joined Lazaridis as co-CEO well before RIM had ever shipped a BlackBerry, the company set it sights on bringing out a tablet computer to compete with Apple's iPad.

But results of the effort -- a tablet called the PlayBook -- have so far been disastrous. It shipped only about 200,000 PlayBooks to stores in the second quarter, roughly one-third of what analysts expected.

My guess is they're probably losing money on it significantly, said Avian Securities analyst Matthew Thornton, who nonetheless warned that investors may be getting carried away with worry.

I think it's a complete overreaction, he said. Should they be down? Probably. This much? No.

RIM's Nasdaq-listed shares fell 19 percent to $23.81 on Friday, after earlier touching a low of $22.52.

That sort of drop will only increase pressure on senior executives, who have been cajoled to step aside by investors and analysts concerned about repeated failures to execute strategy.

Lazaridis and Balsillie each own more than 5 percent of the company and both also share the role of chairman of the board, which investors complain makes it more difficult for the board to act independently.

RIM says the chairman titles help it sell its devices into emerging markets where the Canadian company has garnered most of its growth in recent years.

Not only do both men have to worry about the security of their jobs, they will almost certainly will be under pressure to take big, dramatic steps to turn around the company. That could mean a break-up or a sale.

I've got to think that this is an attractive acquisition candidate, especially for private equity, said Thornton. The valuation is very undemanding. They're still very profitable and cash flow positive. They've a nice recurring revenue base that no other handset manufacturer has.

Just this month an activist investor said it was rallying other shareholders in a bid to empower the board to look at options including spinning off patents or selling the entire company.

Baskin Financial's Schwartz in one more voice joining the chorus for change.

A dividend needs to be started immediately, share buyback needs to be increased dramatically, management needs to make a change and either an acquisition ... some kind of merger, being taken over, he said. That will stop the bleeding.

(Additional reporting by Sinead Carew in New York and Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)