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Update: RIM stock plunges after $518M loss and BlackBerry 10 delay

Analysts dismiss reports that next-gen BlackBerries may run Microsoft Windows Phone OS

June 29, 2012 04:22 PM ET

Computerworld - Research in Motion's stock price plunged 19% Friday following RIM's announcement late yesterday of a $518 million first quarter loss and that its BlackBerry 10 smartphone has been further delayed.

At the close of markets Friday, RIM's share price finished at $7.39 as investors reacted to Thursday's financial results that showed sharply lower revenue and a $518 million loss in the quarter ending in May.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported overnight that RIM may be considering a switch from its proprietary mobile operating system to the Windows Phone OS for future smartphones.

In an email to Computerworld today, a RIM spokesman said that "Our main priority at hand is the successful launch of BlackBerry 10. We will continue to evaluate partnerships and licensing potential but are focused on BlackBerry 10."

The launch will now come in 2013.

Several analysts Friday cast doubt on the Reuters report, which cited three sources who said continuing financial pressures are forcing RIM executives to consider potentially undesirable options like partnering with Microsoft or even selling its network business. Selling the proprietary global network would open RIM's network operations center to other smartphone providers that could in turn enhance their network security.

Both options, the sources told Reuters, were undesirable to the RIM board, which still wants to push ahead with BlackBerry 10.

"RIM seems unlikely to give up on BlackBerry 10, given how much they emphasized it" during Thursday's earnings call, said Stuart Jeffrey, an analyst at Nomura International.

Still, in a note entitled "Fiddling while RIM burns" sent to investors on Friday, Jeffrey said, "If RIM continues to be run as it is, we believe that the company will eventually fail."

Jeffrey said he doesn't anticipate that RIM will be acquired or will merge with another company, but noted that Google's acquisition of Motorola Mobility had seemed unlikely before it happened.

Thus, the note said that a merger or acquisition is "the only reason to not turn negative on the stock."

Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates, said switching to Windows Phone "would make no sense. It would take longer for RIM to get WinPhone working than to continue the path to BB10."

Added Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC: "It doesn't make sense for RIM to switch to Windows, because that scenario is a one-way street that benefits only Microsoft, which wants a bigger smartphone footprint globally."

IDC said BlackBerry's smartphone share in the first quarter of 2012 was just 6.4%, about half of its share a year earlier.

Ken Dulaney, an analyst at Gartner, said it would make more sense for RIM to adopt Android than Windows because both the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 OS and Android are Linux derivatives.



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