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RIM's Got Problems but Not as Bad as Nokia's

Stocks in this article: RIMM NOK

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The stock sentiment and recent performance for Research In Motion (RIMM)is terrible, with the stock retreating back to where it was in early 2009, and before then, in late 2006. At least the stock is well ahead of its $2 level in 2003.

RIM shares are down primarily because investors believe that the company's products are losing market share, and that the situation is beginning to look like what happened to Nokia (NOK) starting four to eight years ago. As a result, the analyst consensus is now materially below the per-share earnings guidance of $7.50, and almost every analyst has downgraded the stock and his price target dramatically.

There's no doubt that RIM is having problems. RIM is several quarters late in introducing its new handsets based on its 7.0 operating system. For every day that passes until the new BlackBerry models become available, RIM is losing sales, all other things equal across all geographies.

Adding insult to injury, RIM's PlayBook tablet has probably not sold well enough to have a meaningfully positive impact on the May quarter's results. The PlayBook was released in April, well before the interesting new software capabilities are made available in the August-September time frame.

Despite these drawbacks, however, the situation at RIM is not as bad as it is at Nokia. Why?

Let's first recap the situation at Nokia.

I'm unaware of a single geography and market segment where Nokia is gaining share or sales. Nokia has close to zero market share in the U.S., and it is losing to every single kind of competitor in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas.

In contrast, RIM is losing market share in only a small number of countries, primarily the U.S. In the vast majority of 175 or so countries, RIM is eating Nokia's lunch. If RIM fails to deliver quickly on its new products, this situation won't continue forever. But for now this remains directionally true in RIM's favor.

The BlackBerry is relatively more attractive in many countries outside the U.S. for a few reasons, including the data efficiency, lower service plan cost, and higher optimization for text messages. Again, these advantages will whittle over time, but they don't disappear in a couple of quarters or even a year or two.

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