By Chris Velazco
RIM’s (RIMM) stock took a bit of a tumble after the release of their underwhelming Q2 earnings report last week, and it looks as though it won’t stop dropping anytime soon. Before the market closed for the day, RIM share prices continued to inch downward until it reached (at time of writing) $21.52: RIM’s lowest in five years.
Before this, the RIM’s previous low occurred this past August, when their stock price dipped to $21.60/share.
It’s clear that consumer and shareholder confidence in RIM is slipping, thanks in large part to their company’s disappointing financials. Their recent quarterly earnings report indicated unit sales were down across the board: they sold nearly 3 million fewer BlackBerrys in this quarter than the last, and PlayBook sales dropped from 500,000 in Q1 to a comparatively scant 200,000.
While the company was bullish on their recent launch of 7 new BlackBerrys, their promising sales seem to have done nothing to buoy RIM’s stock performance. RIM is reportedly going to cut PlayBook prices in order to staunch the bleeding, but it’s looking more and more like their hopes are pinned on QNX to pull them through.
RIM is placing a lot of faith in the new OS, but some are already saying it’s too little too late. By the time the first QNX BlackBerrys hit the streets, a new iPhone will have already been launched, not to mention a new version of Android and who-knows-how-many handsets to go with it. QNX could indeed provide a fresh take on the BlackBerry paradigm (and the ability to play well with Android apps couldn’t hurt), but what if the BlackBerry paradigm is itself the problem?
BlackBerrys have a reputation as being the workhorse of the smartphone world, thanks to their corporate pedigree. It took a phone like the BlackBerry Pearl (which, coincidentally, launched almost exactly five years ago) to take RIM out of the boardroom and into the backpack. Even then, a few years and over a dozen BlackBerry models later, nothing seems to have changed.
Let me qualify that a bit: the hardware has certainly gotten better, and RIM has made efforts to expand the idea of what your BlackBerry can do (BBM Music comes to mind), but for better or worse, the BlackBerry’s communications-friendly DNA remains untouched. You can take a BlackBerry out of a business, but it never feels like you can take the business out of a BlackBerry. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but in a landscape where we lean on our smartphones to inform, entertain, and connect us, the BlackBerry seems almost quaint.
That said, I don’t think anyone should count RIM out quite yet. While I don’t think QNX will be the be-all-end-all that RIM was hoping for, it could give the platform just enough fresh air to hang in there until something truly drastic takes place.