John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Wall Street: Pig Pile on RIM!

New Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins will oversee his company’s first earnings report after market close Thursday, and if Wall Street sentiment is accurate, it’s likely to be a dismal affair at best.

Over the past few days, analysts have released a barrage of nasty reports on RIM that are unbridled in their pessimism over the company’s business. One described the situation at RIM as “Grim and Getting Grimmer.” Another called it “one of the worst positioned companies in the tech sector.”

At this point, expectations for RIM’s quarterly earnings are so low that simply hitting the bottom range of its own lousy BlackBerry shipment and earnings-per-share forecasts would inspire a sigh of relief among shareholders. Analysts currently expect RIM to post earnings of 83 cents a share on revenue of $4.56 billion for the period. That’s less than half what it earned a year earlier — $1.78 per share on revenue of $5.6 billion.

Should the company hit those numbers, it may win itself a respite from the beating it has been taking on Wall Street lately. But if it doesn’t, it will only lend more credence to dire predictions about RIM’s future, which are already bordering on apocalyptic. Predictions like this one, from Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair:

“Our view is that the next four quarters show a steep decline in quarterly units and a gradual decline in overall subscribers, which at around 73 million, is the last of the growing, positive metrics for RIM,” Blair said in a note to clients this week. “We continue to see a mass exodus away from the BlackBerry platform in the consumer segment, in the enterprise, and in government, and there is nothing that will stave off this decline in 2012.”

A brutal assessment, but one that Blair says is supported by the following trends:

  • Some longtime enterprise and government customers are withdrawing support for BlackBerry, while others are beginning to test iPhone deployments.
  • Carriers are beginning to back off the BlackBerry platform in North America and Europe, in favor of Android devices and the iPhone.
  • The iPhone is now outselling the BlackBerry in RIM’s home market of Canada.

And then there’s the broader industry picture, which is truly disheartening.

Said Blair, “This is a company that has been lapped in the mobile environment in nearly every way and the most damning news came on the company’s last call: the announcement that there would be no new hardware until late in 2012. All that time means more laps around the company, as neither Android, iOS or Windows Phone are standing still this year. RIM is going to spend a year trying to catch up to what these players have done.”

Unless, of course, RIM’s first BlackBerry 10 smartphones surpass what those players have done. Impossible? Perhaps. But who knows? We’ve seen mobile industry upended once before.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald