OTTAWA - Research In Motion turned to core supporters Wednesday in Ottawa, hoping to upsell its new BlackBerry 10 operating system as the company's shares fell after a biting report from a securities analyst.
The company (TSX:RIM) invited federal politicians and their staff to a sneak preview of the yet-to-be-released devices, an event that RIM's Canadian managing director acknowledged was a bit like preaching to the converted.
"Government is a critical constituency for RIM and for BlackBerry," said Andrew MacLeod.
"It's where we got our start, in many ways, and it's an area that we are going to continue to innovate and deliver value."
RIM shares fell by more than eight per cent Wednesday to $8.23 after a report from an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities warned the BlackBerry 10 software may be "dead on arrival."
"We believe BB10 is likely to be DOA," James Faucette was quoted saying in a research note obtained by Bloomberg. "We expect the new operating system to be met with a lukewarm response at best."
MacLeod dismissed Faucette as "not a fan" and as just one voice in a varied landscape of people looking at the new platform.
"Two other analysts came out this week with some very, very positive reactions to the platform and some positive reactions to our prospects," MacLeod told The Canadian Press.
"We're focused on delivering value and innovating, and we think if we do that, then we'll get the rest of the stuff to follow."
The Waterloo, Ont.-based company's stock had been on a rally of late, lifting steadily in the past week to a four-month high. Wednesday's tumble nearly wiped out all of those gains.
Besides showcasing the BB10 for politicos and business people, RIM was planning to announce Thursday how it would migrate some of the key security features of its current suite of devices to the new model.
"We're really going to make sure the core DNA — what made Blackberry so attractive to government customers, to enterprise customers — will of course be a key part of the BlackBerry 10 and architecture and system moving forward," said MacLeod.
Meanwhile, the company said it had won U.S. security clearance for devices based on the new platform.
RIM announced early Thursday that it had received the crucial Federal Information Processing Standard certification, known as FIPS 140-2.
The certification would enable government agencies to deploy the new devices.
"This is the first time BlackBerry products have been FIPS certified ahead of launch," RIM said.
Many political staffers, journalists and others swear by the BlackBerry over other devices for one main reason —its keyboard, which can make writing on the fly fast and easy compared with the touch screens offered by RIM's competitors.
The BB10 line will include a touch screen option, but RIM maintains that its operating system will make typing faster than on other smart phones.
The company said earlier this month that its new BlackBerry smartphones were being tested by 50 phone carriers around the world.
RIM aims to have the new devices on store shelves in the first quarter of 2013, after the crucial holiday tech sales season.