BlackBerry feels weight of expectations

Jeremy Green/Ovum
03 Jul 2008

BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion (RIM) has reported revenues up by 107% compared to the same quarter last year, and has seen its share price slump by 12% in consequence.

RIM's beating on the Toronto Stock Exchange is an object lesson in the power of expectations. Most of the real-world indicators are extraordinarily good. RIM shipped 5.4 million devices, and it can report that it has successfully broken out of its enterprise-only niche, with the non-enterprise component increasing as a proportion of the total user base to 40%, and accounting for 60% of new additions.

It can point to 375 carrier partners, and the fact that its pink 'Pearl' device is now on sale in Wal-Mart in Canada through operator Telus. Revenues have more than doubled compared to the same quarter last year, to $2.24 billion.

But the markets had been expecting $2.29 billion - and earnings per share of 84 cents was also below forecasts by 1-3 cents.

Of course, the failure to meet analysts' forecasts is never the whole story. It's possible that there is also some concern about RIM's ability to deliver on its increasingly consumer-oriented strategy - although thus far the signs are actually quite good. RIM points out, for example, that its Facebook for BlackBerry application has been downloaded 1.5 million times.

In the wake of the iPhone frenzy, it seems that RIM is being punished for not being Apple - even though it has an entirely credible future roadmap including its own touch-screen device, a much bigger market share, and a highly attractive new product, the Bold, waiting in the wings.

A similar effect happened in January 2007, when the first-generation iPhone was launched, and it did no lasting damage. RIM will ride this little upset out too; indeed, the hype generated by the iPhone, and more importantly the favorable plans launched by carriers in response to the arrival of more attractive devices, are likely to benefit it in the long run.

Jeremy Green, Practice Leader, Mobile

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