Research In Motion: The Beginning of the End

Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) is at it again. Its shares tumbled 5% after Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, predicted that there is a good chance of RIM faltering (once again!) in the fourth quarter. Shareholders of the beleaguered BlackBerry maker should brace themselves for another poor quarter when the company comes out with its earnings later this month.

Misek is known for the accuracy of his earnings estimates about the smartphone maker, and his latest prediction is hinting at the fact that RIM's march to Waterloo is set to continue. Let's see why.

BlackBerry 7 bites the dust
RIM had announced a slew of new phones running on the OS 7 last year. It looked like some sort of a stopgap arrangement for the company, which kept delaying the launch of phones based on BlackBerry 10 (previously called BBX). But what it really offered was just a minor upgrade over the BlackBerry 6 platform, something that failed to provide any relief to the company's dwindling market share.

The OS 7 phones have proved unsuccessful in reversing RIM's fortunes in the U.S. Also, the company has to now contend with strong rivals and declining sales in Europe and Latin America as well. Apple (NAS: AAPL) now has almost half the U.S. market in its bag and Samsung, powered mostly by Google's (NAS: GOOG) Android platform, is making significant headway in the European market. These developments leave RIM with little space to flex its muscles, adding more to the troubled BlackBerry maker's woes.

Out of corporate favor
BlackBerry smartphones were, at some point, the trusted companions of professionals all over the world. But now it seems they have fallen out of favor with their target audience. News about corporations and businesses shifting to other platforms such as Android and Apple's iOS is nothing new.

Take oilfield services company Halliburton as an example. The company ditched RIM and opted for Apple's offering as the iPhone was a "better fit" for its employees owing to the wide array of available applications. And again, just a few days ago the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives notified that it will also be dumping BlackBerrys in favor of iPhones. And I won't be at all surprised if more news like this emerges in the future.

Blackberry 10 may not be a savior
In one of my earlier articles on RIM, I spoke about why the company needs to fast-forward the launch of BlackBerry 10. But even that may not be a savior now. With the iPhone 5 rumored for release in fall of this year, it seems that RIM's face-saving offering won't protect it when released later this year (if there isn't another delay).

Moreover, the evolution of Apple's and Google's platforms will probably make RIM's BBX appear outdated when it sees the light of the day.

Have they finally lost faith?
It seems like RIM is now counting on others' flaws rather than its own strengths. For instance, new CEO Thorsten Heins remarked, "When the first big security flaw even happens in one of the large enterprises, you will see this turn around. Wait for the day this happens." What does he mean? Is he counting on the possibility that others may not produce a secure device? If this is the case, I believe there is something seriously wrong with the way RIM is looking to run its business. The company should look to improve user experience instead of expecting customers to come its way when other manufacturers falter.

And when a government organization (i.e. the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives) decided to move away from its secure system to the iPhone, the security bit he was harping about must have blown up in Heins' face.

The Foolish takeaway
The odds are stacked heavily against RIM. I haven't even told you about the Playbook fiasco and the speed at which Samsung and Apple are selling their phones. All these factors taken together may completely take down the remnants of the mighty empire that RIM once was. A lot of hope is pinned on the "make or break" BlackBerry 10, but even then the chances of a bounce-back remain quite slim.

To stay on top of the latest developments and problems at RIM, add it to your Watchlist.

At the time this article was published Fool contributor Harsh Chauhan owns none of the stocks mentioned in the article. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and Google and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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