Things are changing in Waterloo. The summer is drawing to an end and Research In Motion is in the very early stages of the biggest BlackBerry device launch of the brand’s storied history. BlackBerry 7 smartphones — which include new Bold models, Curve models and Torch models — will be sold by more than 225 carriers around the world this year and into 2012. But RIM’s BlackBerry 7 device launch is also significant for another reason, of course: it is the end of an era. More →
While HP continues its TouchPad fire sale as it exits the consumer tablet market, major Australian retail chain Harvey Norman has gone on record in reporting “fantastic” sales of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Ben McIntosh, head of Harvey Norman’s computer-buying team, told Australian technology news site Current that the retailer’s sales of RIM’s tablet have exceed expectations. “Sales of the PlayBook are very, very good,” McIntosh told the publication. “BlackBerry has probably come from a different direction. The PlayBook was always going to be more of a niche product based on the fact that they’re really targeting the BlackBerry smartphone base that’s in Australia and the world.” RIM revealed in June that first-quarter shipments of the BlackBerry PlayBook totalled 500,000 units, and it appears as though the vendor’s debut tablet is maintaining a solid sell-through rate in Australia. “The sales of the PlayBook have been fantastic, we’ve re-ordered multiple times and it’s exceeded our expectations,” McIntosh added. More →
Despite Research In Motion’s largest-ever global launch currently underway with BlackBerry 7 phones, RIM may be rushing to get its first QNX-powered smartphone out the door ahead of schedule. Dutch website Tweakers.net cites anonymous sources in claiming RIM is aiming to launch the BlackBerry Colt later this year instead of in the first quarter of 2012 as expected. BGR exclusively revealed the BlackBerry Colt as RIM’s first QNX device earlier this month, and we said internal prototypes of the phone currently feature a single-core processor. Our source also suggested that future Colt owners would require a new version of BES as the device will be incompatible with current versions of RIM’s enterprise system. Tweakers.net reaffirmed our report that the Colt’s chipset only sports one core, and the site pegs its clock speed at 1.2GHz. The report also claims that the QNX phone will feature a 4.3-inch touchscreen with what should be RIM’s highest-ever smartphone display resolution. No other new details were provided in the report, and little else is known at this time. More →
Research In Motion will sell at least 22 million BlackBerry 7 smartphones in fiscal 2012, accounting for a minimum of 40% of its unit sales according to RBC. In a note to investors on Wednesday, RBC Capital Markets MD Mike Abramsky said that RIM will launch seven new BlackBerry 7 devices this year, representing the vendor’s largest product cycle ever. While the Waterloo, Ontario-based vendor will be release its new phones across more than 225 carriers around the world, Abramsky notes that consumer adoption is still a huge question mark. RBC’s EPS estimates for RIM’s fiscal 2012 range from $4.75 (9% below Wall Street’s consensus) to $6.00 (16% above the Street) depending on user uptake and average selling prices. Regardless of performance, however, the analyst notes that “BlackBerry 7 is unlikely to reverse deeply negative investor sentiment over RIM’s future, pending improved visibility to success or failure of pending QNX handsets expected 2012.” On QNX, Abramsky says the first smartphone to launch with RIM’s OS of the future will look like a “mini-PlayBook.” He believes the phone will hit the market in the first quarter of calendar 2012, and it will feature a 4-inch touchscreen display, dual cameras and a dual-core processor. BGR on Tuesday reported that RIM’s first QNX phone carries the codename “Colt,” and current test units sport a single-core CPU though the phone may feature a dual-core processor at launch. Abramsky also notes that RIM’s first QNX phone will feature a standalone email client and RIM’s Android app player at launch, and these items will be available for the PlayBook in the coming months.
Needham analyst Charlie Wolf issued estimates on Monday that put Apple’s iPad atop the mountain of forthcoming consumer tablets for a full decade. Wolf sees the tablet market climbing to 233 million units sold in 2020, and he thinks Apple will own 60% of the market at that point in time. Apple is on a tear right now, of course, and estimating that Apple will dominate the smartphone or tablet market moving forward is becoming akin to estimating that the sun will rise tomorrow. At the same time, there is a broader picture being painted by all of these analyst forecasts, and it is this: the tablet market is going to be big, and Apple’s competition isn’t doing what it takes to make a dent. My thoughts on the market follow below. More →
Pasedena, California-based investment management firm Primecap Management Co. recently doubled its investment in BlackBerry vendor Research In Motion. According to a recent regulatory filing, Primecap now owns 26.4 million shares of RIM stock valued at about $577 million as of Monday’s close, and the stake represents approximately 5% of RIM’s total outstanding shares. According to Bloomberg, Primecap’s stake at the end of the second quarter of this year was approximately 2.5%. As numerous analysts continue to cut their price targets on RIM stock, Primecap’s continued investment could represent a vote of confidence in RIM’s new BlackBerry 7 phones and its future QNX phones as well, which are due to begin launching in the first quarter of 2012. More →
Apple’s popular iPad line will still dominate the consumer tablet market a full decade after its initial launch, according to one analyst. In a new report, Needham analyst Charlie Wolf sees the iPad’s share of consumer tablet shipments declining gradually over the next nine years to 60% in 2020. 60%, of course, is still an overwhelming share of the market. Future tablets are more likely to steal market share from each other rather than from the iPad, the analyst explains, noting that competitive offerings to date have been greeted by consumers with “a yawn and lackluster sales.” Wolf sees iPad shipments reaching 35.61 million units in 2011, up 137.4% from last year and representing 85% of all tablets shipped. In 2012, iPad shipments will grow to 54.3 million units according to Wolf’s model, and shipments will hit 72.66 million units in 2013. The analyst sees iPad shipments reaching nearly 140 million units in 2020, representing 60% of all tablets shipped that year and accounting for $53 billion in revenue and $16 billion in profit despite an average selling price that will have dropped to $377 from $630 in 2010. Wolf’s 10-year iPad projections follow below. More →
While Research In Motion just recently announced its new BlackBerry 7 device lineup — including the fantastic BlackBerry Bold 9900 — we all know that the real-deal smartphones are still in the oven. What everyone is waiting on from RIM is the company’s QNX-based devices, which we hope will make RIM competitive in the smartphone industry once again. BGR has learned exclusive details surrounding the first QNX smartphone RIM intends to release, which is codenamed the BlackBerry Colt, and it looks like there are already going to be some compromises the company will have to make in order to launch the smartphone on schedule. Hit the break for all the details we have so far. More →
UBS analyst Amitabh Passi on Wednesday cut his price target on shares of Research In Motion stock to $30 from a previous target of $41, and reiterated a Neutral rating. Passi stated in his note to investors that RIM is currently facing challenges in the “platform wars” underway between companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft. While the analyst sees the successful launches of RIM’s BlackBerry 7 phones as being important for the Waterloo, Ontario-based vendor in the near term, he says the company’s successful transition to QNX is much more important to RIM strategically. In other words, there’s still hope if BlackBerry 7 devices aren’t a collective home run. In the meantime however, Passi says that UBS’s checks reaffirm RIM’s declining smartphone market share. “Our store checks also show accelerating market share deterioration for new subscribers during June and July as multiple top-tier Android products have been rolling out and Apple continues to gain market share,” the analyst wrote. As a result, Passi cut his revenue estimates for RIM’s fiscal year to $19.8 billion from $21.1 billion, and he lowered his EPS estimate to $4.82 from $5.81. Also lowered in Passi’s note were his smartphone unit shipments estimate, which dropped to 51.5 million units from 54.9 million, and his estimate for PlayBook shipments, which now sits at 2.5 million units compared to his earlier projection of 3.6 million tablets.
BGR has learned that Research In Motion’s head of BlackBerry software may have left the company. Suresh Periyalwar, Senior Vice President of Handheld Software, had been with RIM since April 2001 when he joined as Director of Software Development. He came to the company from Nortel, where he managed CDMA-related development for more than five years. Periyalwar was promoted to SVP at RIM three years ago in May 2008 according to his LinkedIn profile, which still has him listed as a RIM employee. BGR has also learned from a trusted source that several additional key executives have been planning to leave on their own accord. (more
RIM’s stock is down more than 60% from its 12-month high of $70.54, and there is a great deal of unrest at the company’s headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario. BGR exclusively published an open letter from an anonymous senior executive at RIM late last month, which pleaded for the company’s top management to make several strategic changes in order to regain momentum and mind share in the smartphone market. A later expose, also published by BGR, painted a troubling picture of the smartphone vendor that once revolutionized the industry.
If Periyalwar did in fact leave the company as multiple sources have informed BGR, it might not bode well for RIM’s next-generation smartphones. The departure of RIM’s SVP of Handheld Software just ahead of the company’s transition to QNX could imply that the executive did not have confidence in RIM’s brand new platform. On the other hand, Periyalwar may have been pushed out in favor of fresh leadership in its software division ahead of the company’s QNX smartphone launches. RIM declined to confirm or deny the executive’s departure when reached for comment by BGR. Periyalwar could not be reached for comment.
Research In Motion on Thursday announced that its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has become the first tablet device to be certified for use by the U.S. government. The company’s slate has received FIPS 140-2 certification according to RIM, and it is currently the only media tablet to have been awarded this certification from the National Institute of Standards and Technology at this point. FIPS certification is required in order for a device to be considered for use by the U.S. government. “RIM is pleased to announce that the BlackBerry PlayBook is the first tablet approved under FIPS for use within the U.S. federal government,” said RIM’s Senior Vice President of Security Scott Totzke in a statement. “This certification demonstrates our continued commitment to meeting the needs of security-conscious organizations and enables the U.S. federal government to buy with confidence knowing that the PlayBook meets their computing policy requirements for protecting sensitive information.” RIM’s full press release follows below. More →
In response to a report published by BGR earlier today, Research In Motion confirmed that it has no plans to discontinue its Wi-Fi BlackBerry PlayBook tablet in favor of newer models expected to launch this fall. RBC Capital Markets Managing Director Mike Abramsky cited an OTR Global report in a note to investors on Monday that said RIM may be canceling the QNX-based tablet based partially on weak sales. Abramsky speculated that such a move might also allow RIM to focus on the 4G PlayBook and its upcoming next-generation QNX smartphones. “Pure fiction. No plan to discontinue,” RIM said to BGR from its official BlackBerry Twitter account. “In fact, WiFi PlayBook is launching in new countries practically every week.” RIM stated on its earnings call in mid-June that 500,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets had been shipped in the fiscal first quarter. More →
In a note to investors Monday afternoon, RBC Capital Markets Managing Director Mike Abramsky reiterated an OTR Global report that Research In Motion is possibly planning to stop production of the current Wi-Fi BlackBerry PlayBook model. The Wi-Fi version of the BlackBerry tablet is the only version Research In Motion sells for the time being. The reasons for the discontinuation of the Wi-Fi edition, Abramsky states, could be related to a pullback in production, a move that would align channel inventory with slower than expected sell-through, in addition to RIM focusing on upcoming PlayBook versions with cellular connectivity.