Ahead of earnings, RIM dogged by BlackBerry fears

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) will report its quarterly earnings Thursday, but concern is mounting among analysts as the market awaits the launch of the company's latest BlackBerry device.

RIM is expected to post strong financial results and BlackBerry device sales for the quarter, yet investors remain concerned over when RIM will release its next touchscreen device. The device is rumored to be called the BlackBerry Torch and may have a slide-out Qwerty keyboard.

"The expectations are that they're going to want to get a new product out into the marketplace in time for September, because that is when you get the back-to-school and big consumer push," Mackie Research Capital analyst Nick Agostino told Reuters.

RIM also has promised a refreshed version of its operating system for the third quarter, featuring an improved WebKit-based browser, a revamped media player and a more intuitive user experience.

As competition among smartphone vendors reaches a fever pitch, analyst continue to worry whether BlackBerry can retain its lead against the onslaught of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the host of smartphones running Google's Android platform. "The major question is how successful the new ... device will be, and whether the BlackBerry OS 6 is the solution to improving consumers' view of the BlackBerry Web browsing experience," CIBC analyst Todd Coupland told Reuters

Others, however, voiced support for RIM, noting BlackBerry's data efficiency could be a key advantage as more carriers move toward usage-based pricing for mobile data.

"The Street is clearly concerned about RIM's competitive position and future in the smartphone market, concerns we believe are almost entirely without merit," Gus Papageorgiou, an analyst with Scotia Capital, wrote in a recent research note. "These concerns have delivered a very attractive valuation on the name and we would encourage investors to maintain or develop an overweight position."

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Montreal Gazette article

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