BlackBerry 7 sales already seen slowing, iPhone 4S and Android are bad news for RIM

Sales of Research In Motion’s new BlackBerry 7 smartphones have slowed in recent weeks as competition from Apple’s iPhone 4S and Android phones heats up. In a note to investors on Friday, Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley noted that RIM’s new smartphones are not faring well ahead of the holidays. “Our recent checks indicate slowing sell-through trends for the new BlackBerry 7 smartphones the past couple weeks,” the analyst wrote. “Further, with the launch of the iPhone 4S, increasingly price competitive Android smartphones, improving Windows smartphones, and the launch of the Amazon Kindle Fire tablet, we anticipate increasing competition across all tiers of RIM’s products in C2012.” Read on for more.

Apple announced last month that it sold more than 4 million iPhone 4S units during the phone’s first weekend of availability. AT&T also noted that it activated more than 1 million iPhone 4S handsets in less than a week, and Sprint said the launch of its new iPhones resulted in its best-ever single day of sales. Now, more than a month after the handset’s launch, subscribers with all three major U.S. carriers still have a weeks-long wait before new orders will ship.

At the same time, sales of Android smartphones are hotter than ever. Google announced earlier this week that there are now more than 200 million active Android devices in the hands of consumers, and the company continues to activate an average of 550,000 Android devices each day. Android smartphones ranging from low-cost entry-level phones to high-end flagship phones continue to proliferate around the world, and Android is still growing rapidly.

BlackBerry 7 devices combine to comprise RIM’s biggest-ever launch as multiple handsets hit hundreds of carriers around the globe. With sales to end users already seen to be slowing and RIM’s first BBX smartphone possibly almost a year away, RIM could be in for a bumpy ride over the next few quarters.

Walkley dropped his price target on RIM stock to $21 from his earlier target of $28, maintaining a Hold rating. He also lowered his pro forma EPS estimate for fiscal 2012 from $4.72 to $4.27, and fiscal 2013 EPS estimates were dropped to $3.01 from $4.05.

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