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RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie.  (Source: appmodo.com)
2011 Q1 was even worse than expected for the BlackBerry maker

The bad news keeps piling on for BlackBerry manufacturer Research In Motion, and it's starting to have an effect on shareholders.

Last month, the Canadian company predicted a poor showing for its first quarter of the year. It predicted smartphone sales to fall, while the smartphone market overall is growing. It also warned that its gross margin would drop 41 percent.

For RIM, a lot was riding on the success of its tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook. But early reviews have not been very favorable for the device, which reviewers generally concur was rushed out to market without key features such as email, contacts, and a calendar.

The outlook has gotten so tepid that RIM issues a surprise profit warning, thanks to increasing competition and delays in getting its next-gen BlackBerries to market, Financial Times reports. The move prompted shares to plunge by as much as 11 percent, $6.17 per share, in late Thursday trading.

The company predicted Q1 profits of $1.30-$1.37 per share, compared to $1.47-$1.55 it predicted last month. BlackBerry shipments would also be at the lower range of what it predicted last month (13.5-14.5 million units), and would skew more towards the cheaper models, according to FT.

"We all wish we could have got the new products out quicker," RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in a conference call with analysts, "but that just hasn’t happened." The turmoil is "transitory," he added, rather than being long-term.

According to FT, RIM is expected to address these issues at a software developer conference next week, where it may also unveil its next-gen BlackBerry devices.





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