Research In Motion
is still growing, but the pace of that momentum is in question.
The Toronto-based BlackBerry maker will take the stage after the bell Thursday to report earnings for its May quarter, and Wall Street will be watching for insights into RIM's business outlook.
RIM's financial report comes as rivals like
released new phones to a touchscreen-fancying gadget crowd.
RIM has been on a tear with its push into the consumer market. But there will be a day, maybe soon, when sales of smartphones stop coming from easy dumbphone upgrades. Eventually RIM will have to slug it out with other smartphone makers.
With an eye on this battlefield, its notable that RIM was late with its
(formerly Niagara), which was expected to land at
The Tour is now expected to arrive a month late, a slight delay that could easily be ignored in a less competitive market. But this is the smartphone sector, which has no fewer than eight players, including
, all of which have new devices coming in the next few months.
So what do RIM and Verizon do in the face of the heated competition? What else: Cut prices.
Setting off a few alarms this week, RIM and Verizon have
planned to lower the price of the popular BlackBerry Curve to $50 from $120, and the Storm will sell for $150, down from $220. The move is expected to help boost RIM sales at Verizon as it makes way for new models.
The new BlackBerries, however, don't exactly break the mold. The Tour is basically for Verizon's version of the 3G Bold with an optical track sensor for scrolling and a full Qwerty keyboard, say analysts. And the new Aries is a Curve update that also includes an optical scroll sensor.
The new offerings may lack pizzazz, but bulls will argue that RIM doesn't need a whole lot of device sparkle to win new customers. Maybe price cuts are enough.
Analysts expect RIM to post adjusted earnings of 94 cents a share on $3.43 billion in sales, according to a Thomson Reuters tally. That profit number has crept up 11 cents in the past three months as RIM guided above consensus in April with a 89 cent price target for the May quarter.
And the so-called
is an even higher reach at 96 cents a share.
But price cuts might not help RIM's profit growth.