BlackBerry maker Research In Motion just launched three new smartphones, including the touchscreen BlackBerry Storm, which went on sale last Friday. But RIM is at risk of missing its subscriber growth numbers for its third quarter that ends Nov. 29, Citi’s Jim Suva said this morning. Why?
- The new Storm sold out immediately in many Verizon stores. But there’s a delay in availability: Verizon only says devices ordered online now will ship “by 12/15.”
- Why? It seems reports of software glitches delaying Verizon’s shipments might be accurate. Verizon (VZ) hasn’t gotten back to us regarding our report over the weekend, but Suva notes today that “many Verizon store reps stating some software issues complicating the roll out and additional shipments.”
- That’s fine for RIM’s device shipments — they’ve already been sold to Verizon — but as we noted on Saturday, it means that Verizon won’t activate many of those new subscribers until December. Which means they won’t show up in RIM’s Q3.
- Meanwhile, RIM’s other high-end phone, the Bold, is mostly driving “replacement” sales — not all-new subscribers. RIM still gets some revenue for those device sales, but not new subscribers or service revenue.
- Enterprise is slowing “across all verticals.” BlackBerry becoming a “nice to have” item vs. “have to have,” Suva suggests.
- T-Mobile is focusing on selling Google’s (GOOG) G1, not RIM’s cheap BlackBerry Pearl Flip.
- Consumers might not be thrilled about spending $70 month minimum on required data plans.
This all points to potentially slowing subscriber growth. So Suva trimmed his Nov. quarter, 2008, 2009, and 2010 subscriber growth, revenue, and profit estimates.
For instance, he expects RIM to report 2.7 million net subscriber additions this quarter, versus his previous estimate of 2.9 million. He also expects RIM to post $2.85 billion of sales and $0.85 of EPS, versus consensus of $2.96 billion of sales and $0.91 of EPS.
Investors think otherwise: RIM (RIMM) is up 6.7% today to $49.79.
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