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RIM's Ultra High-Risk Waiting Game

WATERLOO, Ontario ( TheStreet) -- Troubled handset maker Research in Motion (RIMM), which just suffered through another disappointing quarter, is trapped in an ultra high-risk waiting game.

Speaking during his first quarterly conference call since taking the RIM reins, new CEO Thorsten Heins touted the delayed QNX-based BlackBerry 10 product as key to the company's turnaround.

"The lack of an LTE product and a high-end consumer offering in this market is hurting our performance," he explained. "[The] BlackBerry 10 product and platform will address this later this year."

The problem, though, is that the BlackBerry 10 will not appear until the second half of 2012, likely sometime in the fall. In the meantime, RIM continues to take a pounding from Apple (AAPL - Get Report), Google's (GOOG) Android phones, and, increasingly, Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) Windows phones.

"Until then, things may get ugly," warned Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company, in a note released on Friday. "To survive, the company plans to price BlackBerry 7s aggressively, which will translate into lower revenues and gross margins. In short, RIM can effectively write off the next two or three quarters until BlackBerry 10's arrival in the fall."

"Until the fall, [I] don't see too many drivers for RIM," added Ron Gruia, an analyst at Frost & Sullivan, in an email to TheStreet. "[RIM is seeing] more pressure from the competition: Not just in the high end (Apple) but also in the lower end with compelling LTE devices that cost less (for example, AT&T's (T) $99.99 Lumia 900 or Verizon's (VZ) $79.99 LG Lucid are just two recent examples)."

Set against this backdrop, RIM shipped just 11.1 million BlackBerry devices during the fourth quarter, down sequentially from 14.1 million, and 52.3 million in the same period last year.

During the conference call, Heins said that RIM will "aggressively incentivize" payers of BlackBerry 7 smartphones, but acknowledged that the next few quarters will be challenging for the company.

With RIM clearly on the ropes, the CEO promised "substantial change" such as refocusing the RIM's enterprise efforts. Heins also explained that RIM needs to "learn how to partner," as well as boost efficiency in its supply chain and production processes.
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