As BlackBerry-maker RIM clings to life-support, more than half of the smartphone’s owners have Apple’s iPhone on speed-dial. More than half of BlackBerry users intend to switch to the iconic iPhone as Wall Street experts pull the plug on RIM’s recovery plans.
The good news for Apple came in a study of 216 smartphone users by Piper Jaffray Apple-watcher Gene Munster. The study found 67 percent of BlackBerry owners plan to buy an iPhone as their next handset. Just 26 percent of BlackBerry owners want to keep the RIM handset. This compares to 94 percent of iPhone owners who said they will buy a new Apple smartphone.
The findings are doubly positive for Apple. Munster also found just 42 percent of Android owners want the Google software to power their next smartphone.
RIM has tried to adopt the Chicago Cubs mantra of ‘wait until next time,’ but with little luck. Several analysts Thursday expressed doubt even new handsets and a new BlackBerry OS could turn things around.
Jeffries & Co. analyst Peter Misek cut RIM’s target share price to $22, down from $24 along with an “Underperform” rating. “Handset shipments will be worse than expected in the November quarter despite the sell-in of new OS 7 handsets,” he told investors. Misek believes the new handsets will get the cold shoulder from carriers promoting Apple’s iOS and Android, instead.
“Preliminary reviews of the [RIM] handsets cite improved speed but a browsing experience still inferior to Android and iOS,” the analyst writes.
As a result, Misek cut his RIM estimates across-the-board. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company should earn $4.8 billion in its third-quarter, down from $5.3 billion. Likewise, the analyst expects RIM to sell 13 million handsets during the quarter, down from 15 million. As for the PlayBook, RIM’s answer to Apple’s iPad, Misek expects 400,000 of the tablets to sell.
The news wasn’t any better from Stern Agee analyst Shaw Wu. Wu cut his RIM target share price to $23 from $27, telling investors the devices “are shipping later than expected but better late than never.” The need to compete with the iPhone and iPad is also shrinking RIM profit margin, slipping to 35 or 37 percent, down from the 39 percent margin the company forecast.
All of this bad news for RIM gives credence to speculation that the firm could be saved by increasing adoption of Google’s Android OS. That is if RIM still has enough strength to leave its sick bed.