Not that you’d notice it from today’s stock action, but Citigroup analyst Jim Suva thinks BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion (RIMM) is setting itself up for a strong second half of the year with the introduction over the next several weeks of its 3G version of the BlackBerry, the “Bold.”
Suva notes the introduction of the product in Germany already, as announced by RiM yesterday, and Austria next week. “We expect a rolling international launch in the next few weeks and will target very high-end connsumers and enterprise, but note that enterprises will likely test the devices for some time before rolling it out in full.” Suva notes this is the first “new signficant” product introduction since the BlackBerry Curve in May of last year. (RiM has already announced availability dates for Australia, Chile, and Hong Kong in the past couple weeks.)
In Suva’s view, the Bold “removes significant overhang from RIM shares and should counter fears of rampant ad spending that has served as additional stock overhang.” Not sure how he gets to the notion that there won’t be significant ad spending, when it seems RiM management has said as much itself, with an outlook for narrowing margins.
But I digress. Suva thinks Web browsing on the Bold is “vastly superior” to the current BlackBerries, after trying the thing first-hand. He says Deutsche Telekom’s (DT) T-Mobile has over 40 million subscribers in Germany and Austria, combined, and that a 1% “penetration” of the Bold in those countries could bring in 401,000 additional BlackBerry units for RiM over the next 12 months, pushing the company over his 28.8 million unit sales forecast, though he’s not changing his formal estimate at this time.
Lastly, Suva rehashes chatter that the Bold is one of “at least three new major products” in the second half of this year, including a touch-screen model called “Thunder,” and a clamshell model called “Kickstart,” which he expects will all be out in time for the holiday season.
RiM shares today fell 57 cents, or half a percent, to $126.73.