BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion has suffered a devastating setback.
In a move that has the markets questioning its ability to survive the Canadian company has delayed the launch of its next-generation phones until next year so missing both the back-to-school and Christmas shopping periods.
The revamped BlackBerry 10 devices are regarded as make-or-break for the once-dominant technology firm.
Its sales have crumbled in the face of competition from Apple’s iPhone and handsets using Google Android software.
RIM’s shares tumbled as it also reported a steeper-than-expected quarterly operating loss and announced it would slash 5,000 jobs, or nearly a third of its workforce.
The size of the loss, its first in eight years, and the likelihood that sales will keep sliding into next year reinforce the impression of a company in terminal decline.
Industry observers were shocked at the extent of the problems despite years of delayed and uninspiring products, service outages and other embarrassments for RIM.
“It’s like watching a puppy die. It’s terrible,” said analyst Matthew Thornton of Avian Securities in Boston.
“Wow, what a disaster,” said Edward Snyder, managing director of Charter Equity Research in San Francisco. RIM is now in “a handset death spiral,” he said. “From a numbers point of view, it could hardly be worse, and it’s going to deteriorate from here,” he said.
“There’s really no guarantee that once they come out on the other side of BlackBerry 10 that it’s going to be something that people will want,” said Eric Jackson, a hedge fund manager at Ironfire Capital in Toronto.