MONTREAL - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion needs some new "wow" devices to keep its North American consumer market share that's now being invaded by Android-powered smartphones, say analysts.
Analysts raised questions about RIM's relevance in the growing smartphone market after the company delivered disappointing quarterly sales results that bruised its shares on Friday.
"RIM simply has no 'Wow' devices in the market right now," PCMag analyst Sascha Segan said from New York.
"RIM's devices look stale. They look dull."
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company is expected to come out with a new touchscreen phone that has a sliding keyboard, as well as a new operating system and Internet browser.
RIM is also rumoured to be working on a media entertainment tablet, to compete with Apple's iPad, that would work with its BlackBerrys.
But, RIM co-chief executive Jim Balsillie only teased analysts on a conference call Thursday.
"I'm just not going to talk anything more about our products, or our launches until our time," he said.
"I just wish I could wind the clock forward a few weeks... I can't say much more, but I couldn't feel better."
Shares in RIM closed at $54.08, down 11.5 per cent, or $7.01, on 5.5 million shares traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Its previous 52-week low was $58.64 in November 2009.
RIM and iPhone maker Apple (Nasdaq:AAPL) are No. 1 and 2 in North America. But that gap is narrowing and the appeal of smartphones using Google's (Nasdaq:GOOG) open-source Android operating system is growing.
Citigroup analyst Jim Suva said Android has made significant progress in the North American consumer market and in the global market.
"In our view, we are still in the early phases of the Android invasion," Suva wrote in a note to clients.
Both Suva and Segan noted that Android phones have succeeded in getting wireless carriers to sell them.
Motorola and HTC are among handset makers using the Android operating system. Samsung is expected to launch a line of Android phones on Tuesday.
Segan said smartphone makers that use Google's Android system have made inroads with wireless carriers to carry the devices.
"They're really cutting into RIM's strength of penetrating into those carriers," said Segan managing editor of PCMag Mobile.
RIM, which keeps its books in U.S. dollars, said it earned US$768.9 million for the quarter ended May 29 compared with a profit of $643 million a year ago.
On a per share basis earnings were worth $1.38 for the quarter, beating expectations of $1.33 per diluted share according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.
Revenue for what was the company's first quarter totalled $4.24 billion, below the $4.32 billion estimated, but higher than the $3.42 billion a year ago.
Mackie Research Capital analyst Nick Agostino said question remains whether RIM will deliver products able to push back against threats from Apple and Google.
"If it doesn't, then we are seeing more and more red flags here," Agostino said.
BMO Capital Markets analyst Tim Long said delays in shipping the 9650 BlackBerry Bold model held back results.
"Had the 9650 (Bold) shipped on time, we believe RIM would have beat on all metrics," Long wrote in a note to clients.
Long also noted that he believes smartphones using Google's Android operating system have hurt RIM.
"New devices in the next few quarters should help RIM recapture some lost share."
RIM is one of Canada's fastest growing technology companies, adding nearly five million new smartphone subscribers a quarter and hiring thousands of workers around the world in the last year or so.
The company employs about 14,000 people and earned US$2.4 billion in profits last year.