BlackBerry shares slide as new devices face uphill battle

Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:21pm EST
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* Lukewarm reviews point to an uphill battle for BlackBerry

* Shares drop 5 pct Thursday after sharp fall Wednesday

* Mid-March U.S. sales debut for BB10 disappoints

By Euan Rocha

NEW YORK, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The afterglow of Research In Motion Ltd's BlackBerry 10 unveiling faded on Thursday as a flurry of lukewarm reviews signaled the company's struggle to regain momentum in the hyper-competitive smartphone market was just beginning.

Shares of BlackBerry, RIM's new corporate name, fell almost 10 percent early on Thursday, after a 12 percent decline the previous day, as some tech analysts questioned whether the new BB10 devices the company launched on Wednesday were the sure-fire hit that BlackBerry needs to get back into the game.

While New York Times reviewer David Pogue gushed that BlackBerry's new Z10 model is "lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas," other reviewers were more tentative in their appraisals.

"The problem with the Z10 is that it doesn't necessarily do anything better than any of its competition," said Joshua Topolsky of technology news website the Verge. "No one could argue that there's a 'killer app' here. Something that makes you want or need this phone because it can do what no other phone can do. That's not the case."

Such lukewarm reviews - combined with disappointment around a later-than-expected and still unspecified date for the U.S. sales debut - spooked investors and prompted analysts to cut their price targets and forecasts.   Continued...