BlackBerry's Comeback Doesn't Convince Some Analysts

Feb 14, 2013 (07:02 AM EST)

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BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
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"For the record, we like the Z10. It's a great upgrade for BlackBerry subscribers," wrote National Bank Financial analyst Kris Thompson in a note to investors this week. "But we don't see the product reversing BlackBerry's market share decline; only providing a short-term stabilization from BB6/7 upgrades. We do not expect the platform to win over many iOS or Android users. The apps just aren't there; and apps are not moving to the Web browser soon enough to fill this void."

These are not encouraging words from National Bank Financial, which cut its revenue and profit forecasts for the BlackBerry maker. It is also worried about BlackBerry's services revenue potential moving forward, pointing out that carriers are loathe to pay the fees BlackBerry wants for its BES. Carriers do not pay those fees to Apple, Google or Microsoft.

The lowered forecast followed news from Home Depot on Monday that it plans to abandon BlackBerrys for Apple's iPhone. Home Depot is going to equip some 10,000 executives, managers and corporate-level staffers with iPhones, confirmed Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for Home Depot.

[ What did Blackberry get right in the Z10? Read Blackberry Z10: 5 Best Features. ]

On Thursday news broke that former BlackBerry co-CEO Jim Balsillie vacated his entire stake in the company at the end of last year. Intra-day trading for BlackBerry's stock opened low, but has since recovered and (at the time of this writing) improved compared to Wednesday's closing price. Balsillie owned about 5.1% of the company at the close of 2012 and sold off those shares.

Also on Thursday, IDC published its analysis of the smartphone operating system share for the fourth quarter of 2012. It says BlackBerry's share plummeted from 8.1% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to just 3.2% in the fourth quarter of 2012 with device sales of just 67.4 million.

That's a lot of crummy news to handle in one week.

BlackBerry just launched BlackBerry 10, its brand new operating system, and the Z10 smartphone two weeks ago. Initial sales of the Z10 in Canada and the U.K. showed promise, though no hard details are available on the number of devices sold. The Z10 has yet to launch in the world's largest markets, including the U.S. It will go on sale in the U.S. next month, and will be available from three of the four largest network operators.

(If you're impatient, and perhaps clinically insane, you can purchase the Z10 today from MVNO Solavei for $999.)

The bottom line here is that it is too soon to write the obituary for BlackBerry. Once the Z10 (and Q10) launch in larger markets in the months to come, we'll have a much clearer indication of the company's turn-around chances.

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