Research In Motion Ltd. shares got whacked Friday as early, and anecdotal, reports emerged of lacklustre interest among U.S. consumers for the new BlackBerry 10 device as it came on sale there today.
On the TSX, RIM shares closed down 8.05 per cent at $15.19, wiping out all their gains from earlier this week. The stock rose as much as 4 per cent after markets opened, but by late morning was flirting with negative territory. A burst of selling interest emerged at mid-afternoon. And shares continued under pressure in the post market, down a further 0.5 per cent.
By contrast, rival Apple Inc. saw its shares rise just over 2 per cent today. While the stock market's reaction today isn't welcome news for the Canadian smartphone giant, it's worth noting that the initial stock market reaction after the launch of new tech devices quite often is negative. As the Wall Street Journal points out, Apple shares have sold off after several iPhone launches in the past - only to rebound later with gusto.
Still, initial reports at store level haven't exactly suggested a burning need among U.S. smartphone buyers to get their hands on the BlackBerry Z10, which AT&T starting selling today.
As the Globe's Joanna Slater and Iain Marlow reported, no lineups appeared at an AT&T store in Manhattan's Times Square.
The Wall Street Journal has also reported that BlackBerry 10 devices were not getting much special treatment in some stores.
"Research In Motion's next-generation smartphones debut in the US with AT&T, but you wouldn't know it flashing a glance inside the carriers' stores, where shelves display BlackBerry's touchscreen Z10 device mixed in with a string of competing handsets operating Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone," a WSJ reporter on the ground said.
Deutsche Bank analyst Brian Odoff didn't have encouraging words today either amid the U.S. launch. "The fact that two carriers in Canada have already lowered Z10 pricing weeks from its launch suggests to us that demand trends are moving in the wrong direction," Investors.com quoted him as saying.
A Credit Suisse analyst also today reaffirmed his "underperform" rating on RIM shares.