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RIM's Simplicity Plan Not Winning

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Research In Motion (RIMM) has exasperated Wall Street, earning the tag: "Wasted research, downward motion."

Morgan Stanley's Ehud Gelblum has become the latest analyst to point out the woeful, unrelenting decline of one of the recent champions of the smartphone game.

RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsille

Suffering a "continued product vacuum," Gelblum said in a research note Friday that RIM is not only in danger of missing its recently-lowered financial targets when it reports earnings Thursday, June 16, but the company will likely take its forecast down yet again.

RIM shares hit a new four-year low of $36.08 Thursday.

RIM's rapid deterioration comes as rivals surge ahead gamely in the smartphone market. Apple (AAPL - Get Report), for example, introduced a new iPhone operating system Monday. Google (GOOG), thanks to delays of the next iPhone and new RIM BlackBerries, is enjoying a summer of love for Androids. Even Motorola (MMI) managed to show up Thursday with two new Android phones that are keeping its expansion strategy alive.

But for RIM, the story has become only more grim.

"RIM has now squandered nearly every opportunity and competitive advantage it enjoyed through ineffective research and development resource management, delayed product launches and misreads of the competitive environment," Gelblum wrote.

Other analysts have also turned pessimistic.

Rodman Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar dropped coverage of RIM last month as he turned his attention to other rising stars in tech. Abandoning coverage of a company with a $19 billion market cap that is still No. 3 in the U.S. smartphone market share is somewhat unusual. But then again, RIM hasn't shown many signs that it can turn its business around.

With the touchscreen BlackBerry Bold delayed until September and the next generation of QNX devices still nearly a year away, it's easy to see where the investment community has lost its patience with RIM.

Foreshadowing of the cause of RIM's disastrous fall from its BlackBerry glory goes back two years. During an earnings call with analysts, co-CEO Jim Balsillie was asked why the company wasn't responding to the rise of super smartphones like the iPhone and Androids.

Balsillie disputed the need for more powerful devices and said the beauty of the BlackBerry was its simplicity.

"These are network appliances. This is not a distributed computing type of thing," Balsillie said on the call. "It's just a small task handler."

Balsillie may have been bluffing at the time, but the sense of complacency then and the current crop of "small task" handlers today suggests it may not have been the best call.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

To contact this writer, click here: Scott Moritz, or email: scott.moritz@thestreet.com.

Follow Scott on Twitter at MoritzDispatch

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