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The long-awaited debut of new BlackBerry smartphones flopped on Wall Street.
The stock of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. started to sink Wednesday soon after company CEO Thorsten Heins began to show off the redesigned smartphones, the Z10 and Q10. The downturn didn't reverse, even with the publication of mostly positive reviews of the new models. The company introduced the new devices along with a revamped operating system called BlackBerry 10, which emphasizes touch-screen controls, a concept popularized by Apple Inc.'s trend-setting iPhone and various devices running Google Inc.'s Android software.
RIM's stock dropped $1.88, or 12 percent, to close at $13.78. It dropped another 1.5 percent in after-hours trading. The shares have doubled from a nine-year low of $6.22 in September. Even so, they remain well below their peak of $147 reached in 2008, when the iPhone was still considered to be more of a curiosity than a revolutionary mobile computing tool.
Wednesday's sell-off may reflect investors' exasperation with the schedule for the new BlackBerrys' release after already enduring lengthy delays.
The Z10 won't go on sale in the U.S. until March and the Q10 may not arrive until April or later. By then, RIM will be operating under another name. Before unveiling the new smartphones, Heins announced that the Canadian company will change its name to BlackBerry and trade on the Nasdaq Stock Market under the new ticker symbol "BBRY".
The Z10 will go on sale in the United Kingdom Thursday and in Canada on Feb. 5. The phone will sell for about $150 with a three-year wireless contract in Canada. In the U.S., it's expected to go for about $200 with a two-year service contract.
The new BlackBerrys were supposed to go on sale a year ago, only to be delayed so the company could spend more time working on the new operating system for the devices.
Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu suspects many investors are convinced the new BlackBerrys aren't different enough to diminish the popularity of the iPhone and Android devices such as Samsung Electronics Co.' Galaxy line, which won over consumers while RIM was still working out the kinks in its new product line.