With the 2012 holiday shopping season coming up fast, smartphone vendors are doing everything they can to spread the word about their fall and winter lineups. Nokia (NOK) and Motorola unveiled new devices last week, Samsung (005930) recently showed off its Galaxy Note II again, Apple (AAPL) just unveiled the iPhone 5, and HTC (2498) and LG (066570) both have events scheduled next week. Research In Motion (RIMM), on the other hand, won’t have a single next-generation smartphone to hawk during the holidays this year.
RIM is hurting ahead of the launch of its new BlackBerry 10 platform, having recently begun a round of approximately 5,000 layoffs. The company continues to explore various options including licensing its next-generation platform but in the meantime, its first BlackBerry 10 phone won’t ship until next year. According to a recent research note from Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette, RIM’s current lineup is collecting dust and losing shelf space at carrier stores in the U.S.
“Our sell-through checks in the United States indicate that BlackBerry sales were largely unchanged in August versus July; however, we detected meaningfully lower inventory levels versus a month ago,” Faucette wrote in a recent note to investors. “In terms of sell-through, we believe that current run rates are roughly one-fifth of those we saw in the United States just eight months ago. Further, we found a meaningful number of carrier retail locations which had not sold a single BlackBerry in over a month.”
To make matters worse, Faucette believes BlackBerry 10 is anything but a sure thing, and he says RIM will have trouble getting extensive carrier support as Android and the iPhone continue to dominate retail stores in the U.S. “Even assuming that BlackBerry 10 devices roll out on time starting in 2013, we believe the clear evidence of shelf-space pressure our checks have detected does not bode well for the company in the longer term,” he wrote.
The analyst still believes that RIM’s “high quality, fully-featured BlackBerry 10 smartphones” could find success once they finally launch next year.