Cracked ‘Berry: 1,000 PlayBooks recalled

I often find myself feeling bad for Research in Motion, which seems silly given that the BlackBerry maker is still a titan. Still, RIM can’t seem to catch a break — especially with this newfangled tablet business.

When RIM first unveiled its long-awaited PlayBook September 27, the specs seemed solid and analysts’ notes were positive. But the day after the announcement, RIM shares fell 5% shortly after the open. Apparently investors were spooked by scant details on pricing and release date.

Then, finally, RIM released the dang thing in April…and the stock took another hit ahead of the launch after critical reviews from journalists. (A few days later, I myself called the tablet “rushed.”)

It’s unclear how many tablets RIM has sold in spite of the rocky start, but now 1,000 of the 16 GB devices are being recalled.

A RIM rep told me via email that the affected tablets “were shipped with an OS build that may result in the devices being unable to properly load software upon initial set-up. “

Oopsie. RIM says most of those devices are still in the distribution maze, but the “small number” of affected customers can contact RIM for help.

A grand isn’t that many devices in the, er, grand scheme of things, but it’s another bump in an already rocky road for the RIM PlayBook. -Julianne

It’s really hard to take a long-term view on this stock with all the hurdles ahead. We expect the stock to drift much lower before potentially becoming a buying opportunity.

That’s what Kris Thompson, an analyst with National Bank Financial in Toronto, had to say about Research in Motion in a note Thursday. Ouch.

RIMM shares have already plunged more than 25% in the past 3 months — and 16% in just the past five days after its sales and earnings warning. Thompson cut his target to $40. That’s 15% lower than the current price. Did I say ouch already?

RIMM, whose stock has gone up and down like a yo-yo in the past year, is certainly an enigma. It wasn’t that long ago that Wall Street thought it could in fact be a solid #2 to Apple. But the PlayBook tablet has gotten mediocre reviews. And Thompson wrote that while the company’s QNX operating system is “fantastic,” he added that it’s also “precariously late.”

It looks the RIMM investor sentiment pendulum has swung firmly back towards “next Palm” status. Did I say ouch?  — Paul 

BlackBerry: Do call it a comeback?

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Chart: CNNMoney

Remember when everybody was writing off Research in Motion last summer because the BlackBerry Torch was viewed as a failure and they still didn’t have a tablet? What a difference a couple of months makes, huh? Or shall I say eh in honour of the fact that our neighbours to the north are the home country of RIM?

Anyway, it’s fascinating that shares of the BlackBerry maker are now trading at their highest levels since last May — especially since Verizon stole its thunder earlier this week with the long-awaited iPhone announcement.

Research in Motion stock is still trading about 16% below its 52-week high. But there’s no denying that the RIM story seems to be getting better. 

The company’s PlayBook tablet won raves at CES last week, as did the company’s QNX software. So maybe all the talk of RIM being Palm 2.0 is just a tad premature. (For more about RIM’s “comeback,” check out my Buzz column on them from last month.)

Sure, Apple is still the king of the smartphone and tablet world. But don’t count out RIM just yet. Looks like the BlackBerry isn’t low hanging fruit after all. - Paul

RIM invented a tablet and all they got was this stupid stock slide

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Research in Motion just can’t catch a break. As CNNMoney reported yesterday, the BlackBerry maker unveiled its long-awaited PlayBook tablet.

The specs looked pretty cool: 7-inch screen, Flash-capable video and a front and rear high-definition camera. Analysts’ research notes echoed that sentiment.

But by Tuesday, RIM shares were down as much as 5% shortly after the open before recovering a bit. Investors may have been spooked by the lack of certain details…head over to CNNMoney for the full story. -Julianne

Recession’s officially over, but not according to recent tech earnings

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photo: Anita Ritenour

The recession ended back in June 2009, according to the body charged with dating when economic downturns begin and end. (Fun job, huh?) CNNMoney has all the details on that report, but don’t blow off your fingertips with a bundle of fireworks just yet.

Instead, we’re going to take a look at recent tech earnings. Those reports can reveal a lot about business spending and the economy as a whole.

Some tech companies have reported great quarterly earnings lately. Late last week, Oracle reported double-digit percentage profit and sales growth in its first quarter, on the back of rising demand for business software and servers. Research in Motion beat the naysayers, reporting quarterly profit last week that beat analysts’ expectations. The BlackBerry maker also issued an upbeat forecast.

But other big tech companies haven’t fared as well. Late last month, Intel warned investors its third-quarter revenue will fall below its forecasts due to low customer demand for PCs. Cisco Systems posted a 79% jump in quarterly profit, but revenue missed Wall Street’s expectations and the company’s sales outlook was also a slight disappointment.

So again, we’re left with tepid statements like “mixed picture,” “muddy results,” etc. That’s pretty unclear, considering the recession ended more than a year ago. -Julianne

As Paul pointed out, Research In Motion has got a lot to prove on Thursday.

Susquehanna Financial Group analysts just downgraded the stock because of: “1) underwhelming sales of Blackberry Torch; 2) losing smartphone share, especially at the high-end; 3) growing risk of RIM’s stronghold in enterprise led by solutions from Apple, Good Technology, and Mobile Iron; and 4) increasing adoption/usage of native third-party applications favoring Apple’s iOS and Android.”

Ouch. -David