For RIM, 2011 Hopefully a Lot Better Than 2010

Published on December 7, 2010
by John Paczkowski

For Research in Motion, 2010 was a difficult year, one marked by slowing momentum and ebbing market share. But next year promises to be different. Because in 2011, RIM will be more on point than it has been in the past. This according to Barclays analyst Jeff Kvaal, who in a note to clients Tuesday suggested that the company had been taken somewhat off guard by the quick pace of advancement in the mobile industry this year.

“RIM has struggled in the U.S. during 2010,” Kvaal wrote. “Net add momentum has slowed and market share for data has ebbed. RIM acknowledges that the pace of technical advance in network technology exceeded its expectations in 2010.”

Evidently, RIM didn’t expect carriers to be quite as aggressive about moving to WiMAX, HSPA+ and LTE as they ended up being. Rather than skating to where the puck would be, RIM spent the year chasing after it–occasionally in an entirely different game.

But that’s not going to happen in 2011. With the PlayBook tablet headed to the market, perhaps along with a Touch Bold, refreshed versions of the Curve and the Storm in the works, and a smartphone migration to RIM’s new QNX OS on the horizon, the company is poised for a good year.

“We believe 2011 will bring a steadily improving line of products to the U.S. market in general, with AT&T and Verizon particularly noteworthy,” Kvaal said. “AT&T, for example, is demonstrating clear evidence of its desire to diversify away from the iPhone in recent months. We highlight the Torch and Motorola’s Android phones as examples. We also believe that Verizon is likely to be more supportive of BlackBerry in 2011 following a difficult 2010. Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has indicated that he considers BlackBerry one of the top platforms in the U.S.”

A good forecast all around for RIM, then, though with an interesting side note about Verizon’s LTE network. Said, Kvaal, “RIM’s planning process suggests to us, however, that RIM may not participate in Verizon’s 4G device launches in January.”

RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis appears at D: Dive Into Mobile later today.

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