RIM shares crumble as demo devices fail to inspire

Thu May 3, 2012 4:46pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Shares of Blackberry maker Research in Motion dipped to an 8-year low on Thursday, after this week's demo of its make-or-break new operating system failed to inspire investors and tech gurus.

Research In Motion Ltd RIM.TO gave developers and analysts a glimpse of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 smartphone at its annual BlackBerry World showcase. Most agree that the software looks decent, but analysts doubt that the product will be able to reverse RIM's fall from grace.

The Canadian company is counting on the BlackBerry 10 platform to win back eroding market share as consumers and professional customers flock to flashier devices made by Apple Inc (AAPL.O: Quote) or powered by Google Inc's (GOOG.O: Quote) Android.

"While we believe RIM is making some progress, we are unsure if BB10 will be enough to slow down strong iPhone and Android momentum," Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said in a note to clients.

RIM's stock, down more than 70 percent in the last 12 months, fell 15 percent this week alone, even as the company attempted to win over analysts, developers and investors at its event in Orlando, Florida.

The stock fell to levels unseen since 2003-2004 on Thursday.

After dipping as low as $11.92 earlier in the day, RIM closed at $12.04 on the Nasdaq. Its Toronto-listed shares, which fell as low as C$11.77, closed at C$11.91.

"We don't see any scenario where BB10 can compete meaningfully against the three major smartphone operating systems: iOS, Android, and Windows Phone," said Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair in a note to clients.

"Our longer term view is that RIM will be forced to focus on the low-end, emerging market opportunity, as we believe that segment remains the only jump ball the company and its products will be able to grasp."   Continued...

A man walks out of the Blackberry maker's Research in Motion RIM campus in Waterloo April 18, 2012. Picture taken April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch