Um atraso de meses do novo BlackBerry da Research in Motion e um sombrio relatório trimestral fizeram as ações da RIM despencarem novamente nesta sexta-feira e levou alguns analistas a considerar a morte da fabricante de dispositivos móveis que um dia definiu a indústria.
O anúncio da RIM na quinta-feira de que deve lançar smartphones instalados com seu novo sistema operacional QNX meses após o esperado inicialmente reavivou pedidos para a saída dos co-presidentes Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
O atraso, combinado com uma perspectiva de um desempenho sombrio emitido junto com os resultados trimestrais deu início a uma nova discussão sobre a quebra da gigante canadense de tecnologia, que tem se debatido contra competidores ágeis que lhe tomam sua participação de mercado.
"A RIM confirmou que o smartphone BlackBerry 10 será adiado até o final de 2012. Isso pode ser o fim para a marca BlackBerry", escreveram em uma nota para clientes analistas da corretora canadense National Bank Financial.
BlackBerry 10 é o nome que a empresa deu ao aos telefones QNX, que a RIM esperava inicialmente para o primeiro trimestre.
Nesta sexta-feira, o atraso levou várias corretoras a cortar seus preços-alvo e ratings e as ações da RIM caíram mais de 12 por cento.
A RIM vem contando com o novo sistema operacional QNX para ganhar o terreno perdido para a dupla iPhone e iPad da Apple e para o salto de dispositivos que usam o software Android, do Google. O atraso é um presságio de outro longo ano de transição para a RIM, permitindo que rivais avancem ainda mais sobre a participação de mercado da empresa.
As ações da companhia estavam em queda de 11,38 por cento às 17h31 na Nasdaq, bolsa de valores que reúne as empresas de tecnologia.
RIM's announcement late Thursday that it expected to launch smartphones powered by its new QNX operating system months after initially expected revived calls for the ouster of RIM's co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie.
The delay, combined with a dismal performance outlook issued along with the quarterly results, sparked renewed chatter about the break-up of the Canadian tech giant, which has floundered as nimbler competitors claw away at its market share.
"RIM confirmed the BlackBerry 10 smartphones will be delayed until the latter part of calendar 2012. This could be game over for the BlackBerry franchise," analysts at Canadian brokerage National Bank Financial wrote in a note to clients. BlackBerry 10 is the name the company has given to the QNX phones, which RIM had initially expected to deliver in the first quarter.
On Friday, the delay spurred several brokerage firms to cut their price targets and ratings on RIM shares and sent the Waterloo, Ontario-based company's shares tumbling more than 12 percent on Friday.
"We see a high risk that this is too late to turn around RIM's position and believe the risk of further delays is meaningful," Nomura analyst Stuart Jeffrey said in a research note. "Even in the best case, however, it seems unlikely RIM will have large volumes of its BB10 devices on sale within 15 months."
RIM has been counting on the new QNX operating system to make up ground lost to Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad and the slew of devices that use Google Inc's Android software. The delay portends another long year of transition for RIM, allowing rivals to make further in-roads into RIM's market share.
RIM on Thursday also provided a gloomy outlook for earning as sales of an interim line of legacy BlackBerry 7 smartphones lag during the crucial holiday season. Even if shipments hit the high-end of RIM's expectations during Christmas, the company will still post the first annual decline in its history.
The constant stream of bad news from RIM over the last year has driven its shares to their lowest since early 2004, and it has led to analyst and investor demands for Balsillie and Lazaridis to step down.
"RIM reminds me of a beloved grandparent. You love them, but they are very outdated and sooner or later they will be gone," said independent analyst Jeff Kagan in an email.
"Either the existing CEOs must update their thinking or bring in a new CEO to lead the company out of the darkness and back into the sunshine before it is too late."
PRICE TARGET CUTS
Canaccord Genuity cut its price target on RIM's U.S.-listed shares to $15 from $18, citing the delay in the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the company's plans to spend more on sales and marketing to help sustain interim sales.
Barclays shared similar concerns about the company's projected investments in marketing and loyalty programs to regain "mind" share.
"Benefits of the investments are not guaranteed but are likely to keep RIM's operating margins at sustainably lower levels through 2012 and 2013," Barclays said.
Barclay's cut it price target on RIM's U.S.-listed shares to $14 from $16; Citigroup reduced it price target to $12 from $15, and National Bank Financial dropped its price target to $8 from $10.
Research in Motion shares, which have lost almost half their value in the last three months, fell 11.2 percent to $13.44 Friday afternoon on the Nasdaq. The Toronto-listed shares fell 12.1 percent to C$13.89.