BlackBerry 10 delay shocks experts, RIM stocks tumble
Published Friday, June 29, 2012 6:58AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 29, 2012 10:33PM EDT
Research in Motion shares were hit hard in early trading Friday after reporting dismal earnings results and another delay in its release of the BlackBerry 10 operating system.
RIM shares stumbled $1.92 to $7.54 on the Toronto Stock Exchange by noon, or 20.4 per cent.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company also said it was cutting 5,000 jobs – one-third of its workforce – to control costs as it pushes ahead with a revamp of its BlackBerry operating system.
The announcements dealt another stiff blow to RIM after it insisted the new smartphone system would be released this fall.
“I am absolutely amazed that RIM hasn’t been able to execute on this,” technology expert Carmi Levy told CTV’s Canada AM Friday.
“You don’t have the luxury of time at this point . . . whatever (research and development) and engineering research that you’ve got, throw them into the mix and get this thing out the door,” Levy said in an interview from London, Ont.
The longer it takes for the product to hit consumers and be available on retail shelves, the more life that will flow out of the BlackBerry brand, Levy said.
“It just doesn’t have time anymore, it’s got to move and move quick,” he said.
RIM’s stock tumbled in after-hours trading Thursday in New York.
The company, which reports in U.S. dollars, posted a loss of US$518 million or 99 cents per share for its latest quarter, steeply missing analyst expectations.
The results marked a decline from the profit of $695 million or $1.33 per share a year ago.
“People are just throwing in the towel and saying, ‘That’s it,’” Colin Cieszynski, a CMC Markets analyst, said of investors. “A lot of people are just giving up at this point.”
Chief executive Thorsten Heins told analysts on a conference call that he expects the company will face further pressure on its financial results over the next several quarters.
Levy said recent failures at RIM can’t be blamed on Heins, calling him the “right guy for the job at the right time.”
“Unfortunately for him, he inherited a bit of a mess and he’s doing the best that he can,” he said.
“If we had another leadership change at this point, what it would do is throw more fuel on the fire, more turmoil on a company that really can’t afford it at this time.”
The new BlackBerry 10 operating system and phones have widely been considered a last-ditch effort to save the company.
Levy said that while there’s a “legion of BlackBerry fans out there who will probably buy BlackBerries until they’re pried from their cold, dead hands,” most of the market has moved on to devices like Apple’s iPhone.
And, it’s unlikely RIM can come back from the brink like Apple did when its late CEO Steve Jobs launched products like the iMac, iPod and iPhone, he said.
“We don’t see any of that in RIM’s future. We see BlackBerry 10, which sort of keeps getting pushed back and pushed back,” he said.
While there are some parallels between the two companies, “the ingredients for recovery simply aren’t there in RIM’s case,” Levy said.
He also believes the 5,000 job cuts aren’t the end of downsizing for the company.
“I think 5,000 is just the start of it. The company’s been blowing people off left, right and centre under the radar and I think that’s going to continue,” Levy said.
“The company is going to be a lot smaller, it’s selling a lot fewer devices and it’s burning through cash at its current size and it needs to be right-sized for a much smaller future.”
While other companies such as Motorola and Nokia have in the past fallen behind their competitors, Cieszynski told CTV News Channel on Friday, “for Research in Motion, it’s going to be harder and harder for them to climb back up and gain back the ground that they’ve lost.”
Although the company has a strategic review underway to consider such possibilities as partnerships or the sale of the company, he said, it’s more difficult for RIM to get a reasonable price as it lags farther and farther behind competitors.
Cieszynski also said there are “lots of rumours going around” regarding the structure of the company, but suggested it was too early for a clear prognosis.
“The street always wants things done right now, and sometimes these reviews…can take a few months for people to go through and sort out all of the options,” he said.