BlackBerry, formerly known as Research in Motion, held a pretty fancy and successful launch event on Wednesday. The struggling smartphone maker used the opportunity to rebrand itself, show off BB10 phones and introduce its new creative director, the lovely and multitalented Alicia Keys.
Sadly though, analysts believe BlackBerry 10 is too little too late and many have greeted the largely successful launch with a series of downgrades. Credit Suisse downgraded the stock to “underperform” from “neutral”. It believes there is “limited scope for traction” in the hypercompetitive smartphone market. Evercore Partners also cut its rating by a notch, arguing that the damage to RIM’s brand has already been done. Barclays Capital analysts wrote in a note that the new devices are great, but the company is set to face many challenges nonetheless.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Muster told CNN that BlackBerry 10 will not turn the company around, as the market has already transformed and RIM (or BlackBerry) doesn’t have enough room to become the third largest smartphone platform.
Analysts are also concerned about the delayed launch. Although new devices and software are ready to go, they will not be available in the US market until March and some smaller markets will have to wait even longer. In the meantime, a number of Android and Windows Phone 8 handsets are set to launch at the Mobile World Congress, putting even more pressure on BlackBerry.
Although the new OS and the company’s flagship Z10 phone got relatively positive reviews, many investors seem to be waking up to the fact that BlackBerry is no longer relevant.
The stock was hammered after the launch event, Reuters reports, shedding 12 percent. Investors apparently fear that the launch was already calculated into the price, and since BB10 is not a game-changer, they are running for the door.
Speculation also has a lot to do with it. RIM stocks started rallying in September, after the company showed off a preview of BB10. It nearly tripled in value by January, despite the fact that the products were still months away, so it seems that a successful BB10 launch was already factored into the price. Now it’s time for the hangover.