Research In Motion Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:RIMM) is to announce its earnings for Q4 2011 tomorrow, but news today suggests the company may not be facing more sever troubles than stakeholders had hoped. Research in Motion Limited confirmed that it was cutting the prices of its Blackberry’s smart phones in India, one of the largest markets in the world and certainly an asset to RIM. The price cuts show that demand for their products must be lower than they had hoped in the subcontinent. The cuts are probably an attempt to move more models of their phone and take a cut in the margin.
Figures for last year showed a 47% increase on the previous year in smartphone sales. RIM only accounted for around 9% of that increase, a large drop for the company. It still has some assets however. It is still very popular around the world in emerging markets, leading in Asia, the Middle East and South America, and can use this to tide them over until their design and tech fortunes turn. It’s new OS Blackberry 10 is expected some time this year and should move the company in a better direction at least.
The company, once the top dog in the smartphone business, has been extremely disappointing in a booming market. Global smartphone sales have rapidly increased in the last couple of years as emerging markets, like India and China, have seen huge jumps in figures. Demand in consumer electronics is at an all time high, it’s what makes Apple the world’s most valuable company and Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) a name everybody recognizes, but market share has fallen consistently for the Blackberry. Reasons behind this are many and complex but it truly boils down to a single premise. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) completely reinvented the smart phone with the release of the iPhone. They stepped into an industry RIM previous ruled and changed it completely until it became the otherworldly landscape RIM doesn’t seem to understand.
The age of touchscreens and app stores is upon us and RIM needs to figure that out and reinvigorate its product range before its too late and they have to leave the market completely. A phone with secure email and a full keyboard was fantastic for professionals in 2004 but it doesn’t cut it when put along side the iPhone and Android devices. The drop in price in India is just the latest admission of a battle lost by RIM in a war it is losing. Q4 results will be unveiled tomorrow the company’s outlook is not good but not too bad for this quarter. Its Q! 2012 that the company really needs to look out for.
David Einhorn and Prem Watsa are both investors in the company. Both are extraordinary investors, with great long term track records. Mr. Watsa is also on the board of the company. It will be interesting to see if either of them can turn things around.