And while the subscriber shortfall may not hurt near-term financial results, it could affect future revenue and earnings. Fewer subscribers now mean lower revenue later and potentially fewer devices sold.
Some analysts doubt that the problem with subscribers really has to do delayed devices. The new handsets are more likely to have been appealing to current BlackBerry subscribers looking to upgrade their handsets rather than potential customers, says one buy-side analyst, who asked not to be named.
"This just feels like they're just trying to resize expectations," said the analyst, whose firm has no position in RIM's shares. "I don't think the market is as big as what they thought."
Others argue that the company is seeing the effects of its ongoing patent battle with NTP. RIM has been found to be infringing NTP patents covering wireless email systems, a decision that has been upheld by an appeals court.A federal judge is now determining whether to enforce a settlement the two companies reached in March, which later fell apart. Assuming he rules there was no settlement, RIM faces the prospect of paying millions of dollars in penalties to NTP -- or even having its BlackBerry service shuttered in the U.S., its biggest market. The case seems to be distracting management from running the business, say some analysts. But, potentially more importantly, the case may be scaring off potential customers, they say. In deciding whether to sign up for BlackBerry service -- or with one of RIM's competitors -- enterprise customers are likely weighing the possibility that their service could be shut down within months, or that they themselves might be forced to pay royalties to NTP, some analysts worry. "This dispute has become a big distraction," says Jay Somaney, a hedge-fund manager with TSG Capital Partners and founder of GlobalTechStocks.com. "In my opinion, nothing good is going to come out of this thing," adds Somaney, who is short RIM shares.