A ‘two-horse’ Smartphone race emerges between Apple and Samsung

Research In Motion’s international sales are slowing and the BlackBerry maker doesn’t have new smartphones for the competitive North American market, say analysts who are keeping expectations low for the company’s quarterly earnings.

MONTREAL — Research In Motion’s international sales are slowing and the BlackBerry maker doesn’t have new smartphones for the competitive North American market, say analysts who are keeping expectations low for the company’s quarterly earnings.

“It’s really come down to a two-horse smartphone race,” William Blair & Co. analyst Anil Doradla said Monday.

“It’s really Samsung and Apple.”

RIM (TSX:RIM) releases its fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday with new CEO Thorsten Heins delivering the results, his first set of quarterly earnings as the chief executive of the Waterloo, Ont., company. Heins took over from co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis in late January.

The Canadian tech company isn’t expected to release its BlackBerry 10 smartphones — the next-generation of BlackBerry smartphones with a new operating system based on the system in PlayBook tablet computer — until later this year.

“There’s no new products,” Doradla said from Chicago. “The current products that are out in the market, we don’t see any traction.”

A recent report said RIM had been ousted from the top spot in the Canadian smartphone market by Apple’s iPhone. The report said RIM shipped slightly more than two million BlackBerrys last year in Canada, compared with 2.85 million units for Apple.

Doradla said BlackBerrys now are an “after thought” in North American consumers’ minds, adding he doesn’t believe retail staff are pushing BlackBerrys, which is critical for sales.

“It’s that 10-minute interaction that really decides it for people and it’s not there.”

International sales, a growth driver for RIM in recent years, are being challenged by Samsung smartphones that can be bought by consumers overseas for $100 with an iPhone-type experience, Doradla said.

In China, India and Indonesia, a BlackBerry smartphone is more expensive, he said.

UBS analyst Phillip Huang said he expects another tough quarter for RIM.

He estimates that RIM will have shipped 11.5 million smartphones and 375,000 PlayBook tablets in the fourth quarter. RIM has sold the PlayBook at discounts to reduce inventory.

“We continue to expect a tough transition over the next couple of quarters for RIM and remain on the sidelines,” Huang said in a research note.

Analysts’ estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters put revenue at $4.79 billion for the fourth quarter and earnings per share of 91 cents.

That compares to fourth-quarter earnings of $1.78 per diluted share and revenue totalling US$5.56 billion during the quarter a year earlier.

New York-based Jeffries analyst Peter Misek said sales of RIM’s less expensive BlackBerrys have suffered “across geographies” except for Asia.

“We believe RIM’s low-end handset sales trends have continued to deteriorate in North America, Latin America and Europe,” Misek said in a research note.

“In particular, sales in Europe decreased significantly towards the end of the quarter. We believe this is very negative as sales outside of the U.S. had typically been more resilient. Our checks indicate that sales in Asia seem to be okay.”

The more expensive BlackBerrys continue to face competition from the iPhone and smartphones with Google’s Android operating system, Misek said.

“We believe higher-end handsets are doing poorly outside of enterprise sales with continued iPhone 4S and Android momentum (especially Samsung) causing issues.”

Doradla said new CEO Heins is still an unproven quantity.

“There is nothing that leads me to believe he is going to turn this company around or vice versa. What he is inheriting is a tough position to be in.”

Shares in Research In Motion were up 33 cents, or 2.4 per cent, to $14 in afternoon trading Monday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Just Posted

High-speed rail link would run from Vancouver to Seattle in under 1 hour: study

VANCOUVER — A proposed high-speed rail link connecting Vancouver, Seattle and Portland… Continue reading

Man whose family died in Boeing 737 Max crash: Scrap the jet

A man who lost his wife, mother-in-law and three young children in… Continue reading

Technology beating romanticism at Tour de France

ALBI, France — With all the technology stacked against them, the six… Continue reading

B.C. man dies of rare viral rabies infection after contact with a bat

VICTORIA — A British Columbia man has died of a rare viral… Continue reading

Red Deer wants no repeat of Calgary Stampede deaths

North American Pony Chuckwagon Championship

Visitors flock to Bluebird Festival

Annual festival takes place east of Blackfalds

Slovakia to MLB draft: Canadian resident Macko takes unconventional road to pros

Seattle Mariners prospect Adam Macko didn’t lack confidence when he shared his… Continue reading

Jason Reitman shares ‘family’ photo on Calgary set of ‘Ghostbusters’

CALGARY — Director Jason Reitman is sharing a first glimpse of his… Continue reading

Graphic suicide scene edited out of ‘13 Reasons Why’ finale

LOS ANGELES — Netflix has decided to remove a graphic suicide scene… Continue reading

Chavis’ grand slam helps Red Sox beat Blue Jays 10-8

BOSTON — Rookie Michael Chavis hit a grand slam, Xander Bogaerts had… Continue reading

Group wants charges in horse deaths during Calgary Stampede chuckwagon races

CALGARY — An animal welfare group is renewing its call for cruelty… Continue reading

You don’t feel alientated, Trudeau tells western Canadians

National unity is not being threatened by the federal government’s attack on… Continue reading

Cannabis producer Organigram Holdings Inc. reports $10.2M third-quarter loss

Organigram Holdings Inc. reported a third-quarter loss as revenue slipped amid lower… Continue reading

Churches jump into action with threat of immigration sweeps

CHICAGO — As a nationwide immigration crackdown loomed, religious leaders across the… Continue reading

Most Read