As the smartphone market gets crowded, Research In Motion Ltd. is starting to look a little bit like its traditional client base.

In a hip, technicolour wireless world, the fear is that RIM and its BlackBerry risk morphing from indispensable, savvy consultant into a corporate bore — a portable email inbox.

Lately, share prices have slumped and there seems little excitement over a relatively thin product line. Hence RIM’s announcement of a $1.2-billion share buy-back program — traditionally done to increase the price of shares and reassure investors.

Citigroup analyst Jim Suva downgraded RIM stock to a “sell” rating, at least in part because of the proliferation of sleeker, smarter handsets coming out — such as Motorola’s Droid — which will prevent the BlackBerry from making the leap from the official tool of the corporate elite to an affordable device for the mainstream consumer.