Stock plunges after annual meet: trouble in BlackBerry-land?

 As some of you know, I blog daily about BlackBerry here. I note that to establish the fact that I watch the company, its products, and its fortunes rather closely.

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As some of you know, I blog daily about BlackBerry here. I note that to establish the fact that I watch the company, its products, and its fortunes rather closely.

But the events of last week appear to run counter to what the BlackBerry community would have wished for.

First, BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion hosted the Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando last Monday-Thursday. This is the annual event when BlackBerry senior execs spread the rah-rah to retailers, third-party solutions providers, carrier partners, system integrators, financial analysts, top IT folks and so forth. A place where major new alliance announcements are more or less expected, new Blackberry models are sometimes previewed. It is hoped that attendees leave the conference on a positive-vibe cloud. 

But apparently that didn't happen. Far from it.

In the last few hours of Thursday trading after the conference ended, RIM stock  sunk to a nearly three-month low. Then, on Friday, RIM stock closed at its lowest level since January 31- right in the darkest days of the patent infringement fracas with NTP when it appeared BlackBerry might be headed for a services shutdown.

You might be thinking that the RIM investment community is so separate from the Blackberry user community that one might not affect the other. But I am here to tell you the investor community is like the canary in the mine shaft. They often sense things before you, the Blackberry user, can. 

So why would a conference such as the Wireless Enterprise Symposium have the opposite effect from what was intended?

Well, a few reasons. The investor community has literally bitten off their cuticles freaking out about what happens to the BlackBerry email platform when Microsoft fully arms Windows Mobile 5.0 with push capability. They are worried about rival platforms such as Good Technology, as well as rival devices from Nokia, Motorola and others.

Meanwhile, the widely expected arrival of multimedia-capable BlackBerry pro-sumer devices this fall (think Sept. or October) can't come soon enough for anxious investors. Since we are still in May, they view RIM's next few months as ones with heavy research expenses getting such devices ready, and many potential new subscribers and upgraders holding off device purchases and sign-ups until the fall time frame.

All this is seen unfolding at the same time competing devices and platforms are getting geared up for aggressive marketing and sales pushes to many of the same enterprise users working with Blackberry products and platforms now.

Plus there's a real fear that multimedia BlackBerry functionality will not be robust enough or even economically priced at levels that would spark enough intense consumer interest to profit-boosting subscriber growth levels once these devices- as yet unconfirmed by RIM- do get here.

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