‘Be Bold’ is a bust: Ad blitz didn’t help BlackBerry 7 sales in February

Research In Motion’s increased marketing efforts centered around its “Be Bold” campaign in North America have not paid off according to Canaccord Genuity. Sales of BlackBerry 7 smartphones, and specifically the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and Curve 9360, were poor in February, Canaccord analyst Mike Walkley wrote in a research note late Sunday night. “Our February checks indicated weak sell-through trends for BlackBerry 7 smartphones despite increased marketing efforts,” Walkley told investors. “With very strong share gains for the iPhone 4S, increasingly price-competitive Android smartphones, improving Windows smartphones, and the likely March 7 launch of the iPad 3, we anticipate increasing competition across all of RIM’s products during 2012.” Read on for more.

New CEO Thorsten Heins said during his first day on the job that rethinking RIM’s marketing strategy is among his top priorities. Unfortunately, the wheels had already been set in motion for the company’s “Be Bold” campaign, and it appears to be a bust so far. “Our February checks indicated weak sell-through trends for RIM’s BlackBerry 7 smartphones, with poor sales trends for the Bold 9900 and Curve 9360 in many markets,” Walkley wrote. “With RIM not launching smartphones at MWC, Android and even Windows smartphones extended the features gap versus RIM’s struggling BlackBerry 7 devices.”

The analyst believes RIM is preparing to launch two new low-end BlackBerry handsets in the coming months to target emerging markets, but he thinks these new BlackBerry phones may drive the average selling prices of the company’s smartphones even lower. In light of the firm’s recent checks, Walkley now believes RIM’s February quarter and May-quarter guidance will both miss Canaccord’s earlier estimates as well as Wall Street’s consensus.

Walkley maintained his Hold rating on RIM stock and reiterated a $15 price target.

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