Chris Umiastowski spent more than a decade working as a technology analyst on Bay Street. He now works as an independent analyst and strategy consultant. He is blogging from BlackBerry World for The Globe and Mail.
Things are just getting started at BlackBerry World, and there are about 5,000 people flooding into Orlando to see and hear what RIM has in store for the technology market. These folks are mostly software developers, wireless carrier partners, BlackBerry resellers and of course … analysts and investors.
Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis has an important keynote to deliver to the general session tomorrow morning. There have been hints all morning that he'll be announcing some very "fun" capabilities on BlackBerry. Given the market's focus on RIM's apparent weakness in the consumer market, I can't wait to see what he has to say.
But the investment community got a taste for what's coming in RIM's Capital Markets Day this morning. This is an annual event ( that RIM webcasts), where analyst and investors listen to a day full of presentations from senior management.
Going into today, you can sense some anxiety around here. RIM had to issue a revenue warning last week, just ahead of this event in Orlando. The stock took a massive beating following that announcement. There are a lot of very upset investors.
First the Playbook came later than expected, and was met with underwhelming reviews. Then RIM had to warn Wall Street that revenue would fall short of expectations in the May quarter because its new lineup of phones, running BlackBerry 7 OS, will not launch until later in the summer. That news sent the stock down more than 10 per cent. As a shareholder, all I can say is "ouch".
The big focus this morning has been on co-CEO Jim Balsillie's presentation. I've attended this event for many years, and I've seen Balsillie present to this crowd many times before. I've got to tell you - he makes a very convincing case for the future of the company. He's totally pumped about the new hardware, software, and ability for RIM to deliver awesome enterprise capabilities while still providing what he calls "consumer delight".
Honestly, if RIM delivers on this "consumer delight," then Wall Street won't be so negative on the stock.
Later this summer RIM plans to release several new phones including the new BlackBerry Bold 9900 with keyboard and touch screen interface. It will run the new BlackBerry 7 operating system. It will be similar to BlackBerry 6, but much more polished and speed due to better software and a beefy processor. The combination of form factor and improved software may convince consumers and investors that RIM has not lost its mojo.
After lunch I expect we'll hear more about the company's planned transition to QNX-powered "superphones" in 2012. Not every phone will run QNX next year. It seems they'll phase it in starting at the high end. Their logic? There is still a massive market to upgrade feature phones around the globe, and not everyone will need a dual-core processor running QNX. It would add unnecessary cost. But for the high end consumers who want a mobile computer in a phone package, they'll have it.
The author owns shares in RIM, Apple and Google.