Books & Review | Cole Garner Hill
Updated: Sep 11, 2012 04:52 PM EDT

blackberry

It's no secret that RIM has some serious problems. The company reported a dismal fiscal first quarter in June, losing a jaw-dropping $518 million. (Photo : Reuters)

With the rumored launch of the iPhone 5 tomorrow, it's no secret Sept. 12 is a big day. Of course, not everyone is anticipating the new iPhone with such glee.

Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette told All Things Digital in an interview published today that his retail checks indicate "BlackBerry sales were largely unchanged in August versus July; however, we detected meaningfully lower inventory levels versus a month ago." And what does that really mean? Carriers are likely content with fewer BlackBerrys, since they might not sell many of them.

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Faucette reported that he found "a meaningful number of carrier retail locations which had not sold a single BlackBerry in over a month."

It's no secret that RIM has some serious problems. The company reported a dismal fiscal first quarter in June, losing a jaw-dropping $518 million. BlackBerry smartphone shipments hit just 7.8 million units during the period, down 41 percent compared with the prior year.

In order for RIM to really turn things around though, the company needs help from carriers. The mobile firm, like any other handset vendor, relies on companies like Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint to promote its products and drive customers to them. If Faucette's correct, however, it doesn't appear that carriers are playing nice.

But why should they? RIM's BlackBerry devices are obviously having trouble appealing to consumers, and carriers have a responsibility to their own shareholders to sell as many products as possible. In keeping with that responsibility, they have no choice but to promote the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy line, and ignore BlackBerrys.

Still, RIM isn't ready to call it quits yet. The company has said time and again that BlackBerry 10, the mobile operating system it plans to launch in the first quarter of 2013, will help it revitalize its business. But with the iPhone 5 being announced Sept. 12 and Android continuing to gain market share, it might be more difficult for RIM to reach its goals by then, according to Faucette.

"Even assuming that BlackBerry 10 devices roll out on time starting in 2013, we believe the clear evidence of shelf-space pressure our checks have detected does not bode well for the company in the longer term," he told All Things Digital.

BlackBerry news site N4BB obtained a photo of the Blackberry 10, which is designed by Porsche, shows a slender touch-screen phone that is the color "gun metal." Several apps are shown in the photo, including Facebook, BBM, and DocsToGo.

"The London" is the first BlackBerry 10 and is slated to have a TI OMAP dual-core CPU running at 1.5GHz, as well as 1GB of RAM, 16GB storage, and an 8-megapixel camera. Reportedly, the device maker plans to launch this BlackBerry 10 L-Series first and will then debut the N-Series. The London is set to hit stores early next year.

This all-touch device looks very much like the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha smartphone RIM started distributing to developers last May. The new BlackBerry 10 OS smartphone will pack a series of applications with an interface reminding of Google's Android OS and Apple's iOS, with the classic BlackBerry Messenger among them, along with Facebook, Maps, and StoryMaker, which sounds especially intriguing. Expected to be some kind of mobile video-editing app akin to iMovie, StoryMaker could potentially add a lot more weight to the BlackBerry argument, though the possibilities of the app are just a rumor at this point.

Some analysts are predicting that RIM will either die by the end of 2013 or will be taken over by a bigger company, with the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook being among the favorites to get their hands on RIM's patents portfolio.

It is expected that more details will emerge about the "London" and other devices at RIM's Jam Americas conference held in San Jose, California from Sept. 25 to 27. 

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