Once five short years ago it was the smartphone no smart marketer would be seen without . Now black days have come for the the Blackberry.
This weekend has seen a wave of speculation about the future of the Blackberry's maker, Research in Motion, after a gruesome set of figures.
The Canadian company reported a $518 million loss and a 33% drop in revenue last quarter - and said it would cut 5,000 jobs, almost a third of its current workforce of 16,500. Even worse: it said its new smartphone—the Blackberry 10 which the company has bet its survival on—won't be ready until next year.
Investors had been expecting it in time for the vital Christmas shopping season. By 4 p.m. on Friday, the stock had fallen 19% to $7.39.
Societe Generale analysts Andy Perkins and Peter Knox called the results "massively disappointing".
They said the BlackBerry's "ageing handset portfolio is struggling to stay relevant" and that the company is now losing money on its phone for the first time.
The only things that might help a turnaround might be "RIM switching to the Microsoft Windows operating system for its new products" or a bid for its "valuable" patents and other intellectual property.
A survey by research firm IDC showed smartphones powered by Google's Android software with 59% of the global market in the first quarter compared with with 23% for Apple's iPhones - and just 6.4% for BlackBerry, compared with 13.6% a year ago.
In the US , only five percent of smartphone buyers picked up a BlackBerry in the first quarter, according to Nielsen .
Tal Liani, a research analyst at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, wrote in a note "RIM's prospects appear to be turning from bad to worse. In our view, the risk of total value destruction over the next few years is possible as at this point we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel."
Michael Walkley of investment firm Canaccord Genuity said he did not not believe the BB10 will be able to turn around RIM's fortunes, especially with a new iPhone and other devices expected to hit the market later this year.
RIM, he said likely be sold to salvage any value for stockholders. "We do not believe BB10 devices will turn around its struggling business," he said.
RIM has cash holdings of $2.25bn and 78 million subscribers and a rich array of patents and other assets.
The most damning comment came from Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum. He said the next few quarters would be even worse for RIM because of "rapidly deteriorating fundamentals" and a management team which fails to recognise this.
"While all the key indicators continue to decline, management appears to be taking a 'damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' approach to running the business," he said.
"We fear that the company could be driving 100 mph straight into a brick wall. We also worry that no company can operate normally, let alone develop, launch and market a brand new, company-wide and globally impacting platform while laying off nearly one-third of its workforce - it's just physically impossible from both a worker morale and a manpower talent point of view."