Wall Street is cautiously optimistic that the update of RIM’s PlayBook tablet could avoid the BlackBerry maker from once again putting its finances in a ditch. The software update prompted one high-profile analyst to tell investors he was “less cautious” about the near future. Yes, that doesn’t scream confidence, but we are talking about the Titanic of mobile tech — and people are still running for the lifeboats at RIM.
What’s gotten the attention of Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu is something usually baked into everything non-Apple device out there, except the PlayBook. It only took months, but the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will finally get an email app. RIM has also given up the idea of a closed garden requiring all apps be proprietary to the Waterloo, Ont. company. Instead, the PlayBook 2.0 update will also support Android apps.
The update — announced Tuesday and expected to be available next month as a free download — wasn’t enough to make Wu bet on RIM’s future, though. The analyst retains a neutral rating, citing the “transition risk” to present from the company’s plans to introduce the BlackBerry 10 operating system later this year. The repeatedly delayed BlackBerry 10 could rescue RIM’s smartphone business from the dumpster — or drag it even deeper. However, it’s hard to imagine the picture getting worse when RIM is just an asterisk in smartphone market share.
Investors are also taking a wait-and-see attitude to RIM’s flurry of PR — the company stock rose by just $0.02 when morning trading began today.