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The RIM BlackBerry 10 arrives tomorrow (Wednesday) as the smartphone pioneer's last best hope to reverse its decline, but at this point the most Research in Motion Ltd. (Nasdaq: RIMM) can hope for is survival.
Research in Motion has steadily lost ground to its rivals since 2008, when it held 20% of the global smartphone market. According to research firm IDC, the BlackBerry was left with just 4.7% in 2012.
The loss of share is reflected in the company's earnings, particularly last year. RIM hasn't reported an operating profit for four consecutive quarters.
The change in fortune has wiped out the stock over the past several years. RIMM plunged from a high of $147.55 in mid-2008 to the $6-$7 range by late summer of last year.
But a preview of the BlackBerry 10 in September brought a little life back to the stock, driving it up over 180% to about $18 last week. RIMM has since slid back to $15.66 by Tuesday afternoon.
Several analysts have helped restore some faith in RIMM by expressing optimism about the prospects for the BlackBerry 10 to revive RIM's fortunes.
"While RIM has lost a huge amount of momentum and share, we also believe that the core installed base has been starved for a legitimate upgrade opportunity," Peter Misek of Jefferies & Co. wrote in a research note last week. He also upgraded RIMM to a buy.
Those who believe the BlackBerry 10 could be RIM's savior point to the installed base of nearly 80 million users.
"If only about a third of them buy this new phone, it will be a home run," Eric Jackson of Ironfire Capital said recently on CNBC. He suggested RIMM could double by the end of 2013. "Apple can't see that kind of return."
But while RIM could see some success with the BlackBerry 10, it faces steep challenges that will prevent it from doing much more than holding on to what's left of RIM's market share.