The BlackBerry Bush Is Burning


It's the end of the BlackBerry as we know it. Do you feel fine?

Shareholders in Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) don't feel good at all today. Shares plunged more than 15% on another disappointing earnings report, embedded in some even grimmer news. And what it all boils down to is pretty simple: It's the end of the road for the BlackBerry platform.

At first blush, and taken entirely out of context, RIM's numbers might not look that bad. The company produced $710 million of operational cash flows on $2.8 billion in sales, shipped 7.8 million smartphones, and reported subscriber growth in all regions, except North America.

But this company really is circling the drain. Sales slumped 43% year-over-year and missed analyst estimates by a $300 million country mile. The bottom-line loss of $0.37 per share was about 12 times worse than Wall Street had expected. RIM shipped nearly twice as many smartphones a year ago.

On top of that, "shipped" doesn't always mean "sold to consumers." To get the real sell-through numbers, you'd have to either conduct consumer surveys, or probe the unsold inventories at Verizon, AT&T, and Best Buy (NYS: BBY) . Chances are, many of those 7.8 million tablets and smartphones are gathering dust on store shelves.

That's a terrible report and all, but the worst is yet to come.

The BlackBerry 10 software that was supposed to ride in on a white horse and rescue RIM from oblivion is getting lost on the way to Waterloo. Already delayed several times, there was still a chance that RIM could get the refresh done in time for the back-to-school season -- or at the very least, before the holiday shopping and corporate budget flush seasons at the end of the year.

But now we know that BlackBerry 10 won't make any of those deadlines. Instead, the platform is scheduled to ship in the first calendar quarter of 2013. And by then, all its rivals will have sold their latest and greatest stuff to cheering mall crowds. Smartphones using Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) newest Windows operating system will hit shelves around then, as will Apple's (NAS: AAPL) latest and greatest iPhone. Which means that, even if BB10 is all that and a bag of Doritos after all, smartphone shoppers will still shrug and ask, "BlackBerry who?"

The smartphone wars can be brutal. Click here to find out why investors are so excited about this exploding trillion-dollar revolution -- and why RIM never could afford to miss the boat this badly.

Also, if you want to learn more reasons why Apple could have plenty of room to run from current levels, check out our new premium Apple research service run by our top technology analyst.

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