Analysts sour on RIM's BlackBerry strategy

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is facing a renewed attack from analysts who turned decidedly bearish on the BlackBerry maker's prospects in the competitive smartphone market.

The latest to rate RIM's stock with a "Sell" rating is Colin Gillis of BCG. In a research note, Gillis reiterated many now-familiar criticisms of RIM's strategy, including that "the company's core strengths of security, keyboard, compression and battery life have a diminishing appeal to both consumer and enterprise customers in a brutally competitive and rapidly evolving smartphone market." Gillis also said that in addition to facing threats from Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Google's Android platform in the consumer market,  RIM likely will face renewed competition in the enterprise market from Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and Hewlett-Packard's revamp of Palm's webOS.

Gillis said RIM will benefit from overall growth in the smartphone market and that the company's competitors--particularly Android--could be tripped up, but said that "we maintain that the competitive positioning for the company points to a slow fade in overall market share."

Indeed, AT&T's Fred Devereux, president of the carrier's Western wireless operations, said he was "surprised there hasn't been a faster adoption" of the new BlackBerry Torch. However, according to electronista, AT&T subsequently said it was "pleased with Torch sales so far." The Torch is RIM's latest BlackBerry and features a refreshed operating system.

Gillis's BlackBerry critique echoed recent sentiments from a number of analysts. Adnaan Ahmad of Berenberg slashed his price target for RIM, and Bernstein analyst Pierre Ferragu said in a research note that RIM's enterprise dominance may be slipping away. That said, not all forecasters are down on RIM. In its latest projections, IDC said RIM likely will maintain 17.3 percent of the global smartphone market by 2014, roughly unchanged from its present position.

A RIM spokeswoman declined to comment. RIM reports its quarterly earnings Sept. 16.

For more:
- see this electronista article
- see these three Business Insider posts on RIM

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