The BlackBerry Recession

Research in Motion sinks.


Does the slumping economy mean the shine has worn off of the smartphone market?

Research in Motion ( RIMM) is down about 9 percent today on analysts finally deciding the economy matters, even for cutting-edge handsets.

Morgan Keegan, which is revamping all sorts of ratings to account for a recession, sees handset growth cooling. Analyst Tavis McCourt predicts, "Unit growth worldwide in Q4:08 will be in the mid-single digits and for 2009 will be flattish."

From his report:

For smartphones specifically, we believe growth will also slow from 10%-15%, taking the industry 40%-ish growth in 2008 down to a 25%-30% range in 2009. We continue to believe RIM should grow significantly faster than the smartphone market given its aggressive new product introductions.

McCourt cut year-over-year sales estimates to 42 million units from 49.4 million, which is still a 59 percent gain, and analysts predict RIM will get more of the total global smartphone market in 2009 (about 18 percent vs. an earlier 14 percent).

Pacific Crest Securities cut the company, too, citing slower sell through in North America and Europe.

Smartphone investors take heed: You'll get another glimpse at the state of real demand when Apple reports earnings Tuesday, and if you're looking for another clue as to how hot or cold consumers are on the latest gadget, Google's first smartphone, the G1, goes on sale this week, too.