Analysts Claim BlackBerry Sales Are Dropping Significantly In Europe

RIM’s BlackBerry sales “decreased significantly” in Europe putting pressure on the launch of BlackBerry 10 in autumn

Research In Motion and its BlackBerry brand face softening interest in its current handsets, according to an analyst report. This puts more pressure on BlackBerry 10, its next-generation mobile platform, to succeed in the marketplace.

“We believe RIM’s low-end handset sales trends have continued to deteriorate in North America, Latin America and Europe,” Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies, wrote in a co-authored research note. “In particular, sales in Europe decreased significantly towards the end of the quarter. We believe this is very negative as sales outside of the US had typically been more resilient.” However, his checks indicated that BlackBerry sales in Asia remained “okay”.

Continuing challenge

Misek also felt that BlackBerry’s higher-end devices face a continuing challenge from the iPhone and Android. “We believe the iPhone 5 launch (we expect end of Q2/Q3) ahead of the BB10 launch (we expect September) will be particularly troubling,” he wrote. “The BB10 will also have to compete head-to-head in H2 with Microsoft/Nokia as the Windows 8 platform attempts to become the No.3 player.”

RIM has been encouraging third-party developers to build apps for its PlayBook, which relies on the same QNX code base as BlackBerry 10; in theory, apps built for the tablet will port over to the smartphone platform with relatively little fuss. But RIM will need much more than a robust apps ecosystem if it wants BlackBerry 10 to successfully push back against Apple’s iPhone, Google Android, and Windows Phone.

A 13 February posting on the CrackBerry blog suggested that BlackBerry 10 will feature home-screen “widgets” reminiscent of Windows Phone’s Live Tiles, a tray with smart icons capable of displaying information, a universal inbox and perhaps video chat.

RIM fully intends to double down on BlackBerry 10. “Our checks indicate RIM is likely to move away from a proposal to the board that RIM license BB10 to Samsung and launch a new BBM, email, and social networking app for iOS/Android for a monthly fee,” Misek wrote in a February research note. The new plan, he added, will centre on RIM competing against “Apple, Android and Windows ecosystems with their own integrated hardware/software/services ecosystem.”

For some time, RIM executives have touted BlackBerry 10 as a game-changer. If the operating system does not succeed, however, RIM will likely need to ask some very hard questions about its own future.

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