updated 04:45 pm EST, Mon December 22, 2008
Needham on Storm post Xmas
Research in Motion is unlikely to sustain its early sales success for the BlackBerry Storm past the holidays, analyst Charlie Wolf of Needham Research estimates. The financial expert acknowledges that the Storm had a particularly strong launch but believes that the first touchscreen BlackBerry's sales will drop in early 2009 as a number of poor reviews damage its reputation beyond early adopters and holiday buyers. Other competitors have had also had more favorable reactions and are thought to stand a better chance of maintaining momentum and of avoiding early price drops.
"The competitive landscape in the consumer segment of the smartphone market has heated up significantly as reflected in the success of the iPhone and the imminent arrive [sic] of phones running on Google's Android operating system," Wolf writes. "This is taking a toll on RIM's gross margins. And it could lead to a deceleration in the growth of new subscriber activations in ."
The Needham analyst doesn't provide specific guidance as to sales numbers for the Storm or other phones, though he notes the Bold may also be subject to a post-holiday lull.
RIM has presented only limited information about the Storm's performance since it went on sale. The company noted the Storm was responsible highest daily number of new BlackBerry service subscribers ever in its history but has yet to break down its 6.7 million shipped phones by model, making it difficult to determine how many were sold on launch and during the first week of availability recorded during the quarter.
About 50 percent of all Storm buyers are also new to the platform, though it's unclear how many of these are converts from opposing devices and carriers versus upgrades existing with Verizon or Vodafone. Approximately 40 percent of iPhone 3G buyers have switched from rivals and are most likely to have switched from Verizon.