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BlackBerry's Grim Prospects: Z10 Launch Disappoints (Update 1)

The BlackBerry 10 operating system, and the Z10 smartphone, are supposed to change the minds of the American consumer. Over the weekend, BlackBerry had several commercials run during the NCAA tournament, as the company hoped to capture back the mindshare it lost over the years. Judging by the opening weekend response, that didn't go as planned.

Perhaps it's the lack of support for the platform from developers, with no apps from Instagram and Netflix (NFLX), or the weak battery performance (something I questioned last week), but the launch is not going well. Even the strong launches in Canada and Europe are now being undermined, Suva noted, with customers returning the device, most notably for the lack of apps, and carriers are moving the Z10 to less favorable positions in their stores.

UBS analyst Amitabh Passi believes that although the near-term could be good for BlackBerry, the longer-term earnings outlook is still challenging. He cited channel fill-in, pent-up demand and a bullish tone from BlackBerry's management, including CEO Thorsten Heins, but added the stock is likely to remain volatile given the service weakness, competition, and "an un-compelling multi-screen, cloud, and content strategy." Passi rates shares "neutral" with a $13 price target.

The U.S. is the key market for any smartphone manufacturer, particularly one that's trying to compete in an increasingly crowded market place, such as BlackBerry. The company has a long road ahead of it. Starting off with such a poor reception in the most important market is certainly not going to make BlackBerry's prospects of gaining market share any better.

Shares of BlackBerry were lower in premarket trading Monday, off 4.16% to $14.29.

-- Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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