RIM BlackBerry 10 prototype fails to wow investors

Tue May 1, 2012 8:37pm EDT
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By Alastair Sharp

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd gave developers a glimpse at its next-generation BlackBerry 10 smartphone on Tuesday and a set of software tools to create flashy apps to run on its new operating system, but investors were unimpressed and RIM's shares tumbled.

At RIM's annual BlackBerry World conference in Orlando, new CEO Thorsten Heins took center stage to unveil a prototype of the devices RIM expects to launch later this year. The BlackBerry 10 devices will navigate with fewer keystrokes than the legacy smartphones, relying on swipe gestures and word suggestions.

"We wanted a user paradigm that is easy and fast," Heins said, demonstrating how information from documents, emails, calendars, and address books could slide in and out from the screen's edges. "It's all about making things flow."

Colin Gillis, an analyst at BGC Partners, said Heins' presentation only served as a reminder of the tough road the company has ahead as it prepares for the make-or-break BlackBerry 10 launch.

RIM knows consumers won't buy its new phones or tablets unless developers get excited about the platform and create a wealth of apps to operate on it. A dearth of apps for the legacy BlackBerry is one of the big reasons RIM has suffered huge market-share losses to Apple Inc and Google Inc's Android in recent years.

As a consequence, shares of the BlackBerry maker have dropped about 70 percent over the past 12 months. On Tuesday, RIM closed down 5.8 percent at C$13.31 in trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

"The bulls have disappeared from the scene as far as RIM is concerned," said David Cockfield, managing director and portfolio manager at Northland Wealth Management. "There is no investor confidence in RIM at all. It will have to do something fairly spectacular to turn things around."


Research in Motion Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins holds up a prototype of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone at the BlackBerry World event in Orlando May 1, 2012 . REUTERS/David Manning