Cracked ’Berry hits 9-year stock bottom
- Last Updated: 12:04 AM, July 2, 2012
- Posted: 11:27 PM, June 30, 2012
BlackBerry is on death watch, waiting for a visit, perhaps, from the RIM-reaper.
The Canadian company RIM, a national treasure, is losing the faith of even its home country as it bleeds BlackBerry users in North America. A once-committed business base is fraying, overcoming the “CrackBerry” habit that once gripped executives who couldn’t escape their messaging devices.
Now, the BlackBerry is looking at pager-like obsolescence, a future textbook case for business school about how far and fast a company can fall.
“Even hard-core fans of BlackBerry are starting to look away,” said Steven Brasen, a research director at Enterprise Management Associates.
Last year, 70 percent of companies with 10,000 or more employees were on BlackBerrys; this year that market share will fall to 30 percent, Brasen said.
Last week, RIM reported what was likely its last quarter of growing its user base, which stands at 78 million. Revenue is dwindling, down 43 percent year-over-year last quarter, and the next-generation BlackBerry 10 phone was delayed again.
Customers are not waiting while RIM, which cut its work force by a third, plays catch-up to Apple and Google phones already available.
Margaret Wood, a saleswoman in Canada, abandoned her home country’s iconic tech company, and after years of BlackBerry use she switched to the iPhone last week.
“I have been using an iPad for a couple of years,” Wood told The Post. “The switch to the iPhone was natural.”
She’s an example of how Apple lures customers with one product and rides the halo effect as users become attached to the ecosystem of developers who deliver apps and other content. Apple says it’s sold 250 million iPhones since it debuted in 2007.
BlackBerry can’t match Apple’s offerings — not that it hasn’t tried. Last year, the firm released the PlayBook tablet, but it was a sales bust.
On her BlackBerry, Wood “never did download many apps because the app store was slow and painful,” she said.
RIM is trying to recover, and the company hard-sells developers, guaranteeing revenue and offering other incentives, according to apps makers.
“But it’s not really worth it,” one developer said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “BlackBerry is a falling platform.”
Meanwhile, RIM is a falling stock. Last summer shares were above $30, but on Friday they closed at a nine-year low: $7.39.
RIM’s new CEO, Thorsten Heins, has said the company is committed to turning its fortunes around without a sale or strategic partnership, although there have been reports that Microsoft could be interested in teaming with RIM, similar to the way it has with Nokia.
Investors are worried, however, that as RIM goes it alone, it will burn through its $2.2 billion in cash. RIM’s intellectual property could be a draw for any would-be future smartphone maker (perhaps Amazon or Facebook) looking to get in the game, analysts said.