RIM Delays BBX, Casts Doubt on Turnaround

RIM Delays BBX, Casts Doubt on Turnaround

Research in Motion may delay its new BBX platform, as investors and consumers continue to lose faith in the struggling company.

Analysts believe RIM will be unable to deliver its new BBX and Playbook 2.0 operating systems early next year, as promised by the company. As a result, global investment bank Barclays cut the company’s price target from $40 to $23, sending stock prices plummeting.

“We believe QNX smartphones are delayed beyond management’s last public statements of a 1Q12 release,” said Jeff Kvaal, analyst at Barclays.

Reasons for the downgrade included “technical challenges” with BBX and Playbook 2.0, and a six-month carrier certification process in the U.S. that hasn’t yet begun. Barclay’s therefore considers “a mid-year launch more likely” for the new BlackBerry software, which may delay the company’s hopes for a turnaround.

Research In Motion has high hopes for its coming operating system, but the company may not be able to generate consumer enthusiasm for the new products. After a tough year of layoffs, outages, and lackluster sales, RIM unveiled its plans for software upgrades to middling responses.

The company recently unveiled handsets that will arrive prior to BBX, but whether those devices will be compatible with the upcoming software is unknown. Consumers wishing to upgrade their BlackBerries will likely hold out for the new software, but BBX’s probable delayed release may shake even the most faithful of RIM’s users.

The company has lost ground to Apple’s iPhone and Google’s numerous Android devices, which are gaining popularity with business users, BlackBerry’s largest demographic. Lack of new hardware and frustrating glitches, like a one-device limitation on BlackBerry Messenger, have prompted many consumers to switch to other devices.

Consequently, RIM’s investors are becoming increasingly frustrated. Last week, the Canada-based company’s shares fell to their lowest in seven years. It also shipped 3.5 million fewer phones than predicted, and cut sales expectations for the PlayBook by half, leaving shareholders calling for a change in leadership.

Some analysts believe emerging markets like Africa and the Middle East may bolster BlackBerry sales, but in major markets like the U.S. and Canada, BlackBerry is losing ground it may not be able to recover. The longer RIM delays BBX and PlayBook 2.0, the lower its market shares may fall, and many analysts now wonder if RIM thoroughly understands the precarious position it’s currently in.

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