John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM Revival Rebutted

The recent bout of stock-market optimism that has lifted Research In Motion’s shares more than 50 percent over the past 30 days — while a nice change of pace from the year-long bloodletting that preceded it — may prove ill-advised in the months ahead. In fact, it may be one of the last rallies RIM’s stock sees for some time.

That’s the bear take on the sudden upswell of goodwill that buoyed RIM shares back into the $11 range. Its gist, as encapsulated by Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum: RIM’s better-than-expected second-quarter earnings were an anomaly and not the beginning of a trend, BlackBerry 10 probably isn’t going to save the company, and this winter rally that’s got investors so juiced will be short-lived.

“We continue to believe BlackBerry 10 has a low chance of success,” Gelblum said. “While some of the new features on BB10 seem innovative, we had a similar reaction to Palm’s webOS when we saw it at CES in ’09. Ultimately we believe BB10 is too late, and subs continue to shift to competitive devices.”

Gelblum notes a few troubling stats to support his argument. The first: A mid-October global mobile workforce survey that found only 5 percent of respondents expecting to upgrade to a new BlackBerry. The second, an August IDC survey of 5,526 enterprise app developers that found that the number of devs who professed to be “very interested” in BlackBerry apps had fallen to 9 percent from 40 percent.

Neither of those findings are surprising. Indeed, to anyone who has been paying attention to RIM’s sad downward spiral, they’re truisms. The handset pioneer is still in the same dire straits it was in this past summer, when its shares were being mercilessly hammered. And it’s entirely possible that BB10 won’t be enough to bootstrap the company back into relevance, let alone reverse the dramatic loss of traction its BlackBerry handsets have suffered.

Really, the only thing that has changed about RIM in the past few weeks is investor sentiment toward it. And that’s not going to help the company make BB10 a true rival to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik