RIM's Ultra High-Risk Waiting Game
"The lack of an LTE product and a high-end consumer offering in this market is hurting our performance," he explained. "
The problem, though, is that the BlackBerry 10 will not appear until the second half of 2012, likely sometime in the fall. In the meantime, RIM continues to take a pounding from Apple(AAPL) , Google's(GOOG) Android phones, and, increasingly, Microsoft(MSFT) Windows phones.
"Until then, things may get ugly," warned Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company, in a note released on Friday. "To survive, the company plans to price BlackBerry 7s aggressively, which will translate into lower revenues and gross margins. In short, RIM can effectively write off the next two or three quarters until BlackBerry 10's arrival in the fall."
"Until the fall,
Set against this backdrop, RIM shipped just 11.1 million BlackBerry devices during the fourth quarter, down sequentially from 14.1 million, and 52.3 million in the same period last year.
During the conference call, Heins said that RIM will "aggressively incentivize" payers of BlackBerry 7 smartphones, but acknowledged that the next few quarters will be challenging for the company.
With RIM clearly on the ropes, the CEO promised "substantial change" such as refocusing the RIM's enterprise efforts. Heins also explained that RIM needs to "learn how to partner," as well as boost efficiency in its supply chain and production processes.
Analysts, however, warn that rebound efforts may be too little, too late.
"BlackBerry 7 products are showing little market traction and the prospects for BlackBerry 10 remain uncertain," explained Stuart Jeffrey, an analyst at Nomura Equity Research, in a note released on Friday. "We see little likelihood of RIM succeeding as a standalone ecosystem, even if it does find some partners."
Nomura, which has a neutral rating on RIM, lowered its price target from $15 to $13.25.