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Monday, 05 December 2011 13:17

Research in Motion "may never recover" from Playbook failure


An investment analyst in Research in Motion's home country, Canada, has made a gloomy prognosis for the BlackBerry maker in the wake of RIM's $US485m write down of its PlayBook inventory.

RIM announced the write down last Friday, 2 December, saying it had "a high level of BlackBerry PlayBook inventory" and that "an increase in promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers'¦due to several factors, including recent shifts in the competitive dynamics of the tablet market and a delay in the release of the PlayBook OS 2.0 software."

In the wake of the writedown - and the company's update of its Q3 guidance saying that it "no longer expects to meet its full year adjusted diluted earnings per share guidance of $5.25-6.00" - National Bank Financial analyst, Kris Thompson, put out a bulletin on RIM under the headline "BlackBerry Franchise May Never Recover."

Thompson said: "Our thesis remains that [BlackBerry] channel inventory remains at risk of becoming stale next year much like the failed PlayBook. We expect RIM's performance to deteriorate in future quarters and have little hope for a recovery from the new BBX platform'¦ We expect future PlayBook write-downs as we expect the product to fail in the near term'¦Our Q4 forecast of 13.8 million units remains unchanged as we anticipated this sequential decline due to the weakness of the BB7 portfolio versus competing smartphones."

BBX is RIM's future operating system, announced in October, that will be common to both its smartphones and tablets. BBX was unveiled at the company's US developers conference, but no indication was given as to commercial availability.


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Thompson concluded: "RIM desperately needs more desirable smartphones. We expect RIM to be late with new BBX-based smartphones as the management team has not been able to manage internal processes with such rapid headcount growth. We continue to suggest BlackBerry has too many product variations. RIM's recovery window is almost closed."

However, Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis appeared to be still bullish saying: "RIM is committed to the BlackBerry PlayBook and believes the tablet market is still in its infancy. Although a number of factors have led to the need for an inventory provision in the third quarter, we believe the PlayBook, which will be further enhanced with the upcoming PlayBook OS 2.0 software, is a compelling tablet for consumers that also offers unique security and manageability features for the enterprise'¦

"We look forward to continuing to grow the installed base of PlayBook users and to attracting more and more developers to expand the volume of applications, content and services that leverage the power of the industry leading QNX-based platform."

To add to RIM's woes, it is being sued over the BBX name by US software company, BASIS International. According to Wikipedia, "BBx is the original name for the Business Basic interpreter developed by BASIS International in 1985. BASIS estimates that over 1.7 million end users worldwide run applications built with their products."

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