BlackBerry Sales Slow Down As The Holiday Season Approaches

It’s a fact of life for many a new smartphone on the market: the impressive sales seen at launch and during the first few weeks will inevitably taper off. RIM’s new line of BlackBerrys may have already blown through that initial grace period, if RBC Capital Market’s Mike Abramsky is to be believed. Abramsky noted to investors this morning that BlackBerry sales have begun to slow down as RIM heads into the holiday season.

“Despite on-time BlackBerry 7 launches, checks are showing slowing domestic sell-through, plus impacts from recent service outages and PlayBook challenges (delayed software, sluggish sell-through),” Abramsky said.

The news can’t be too welcome to the folks at Waterloo, seeing as RBC Capital Markets had previously maintained a bullish stance on the company’s future. For what it’s worth, RIM can take solace in the fact that they enjoy a strong position in international markets — Abramsky refers to them as the top vendor in Great Britain and Indonesia.

Still, at home and in the U.S., RIM is looking at a dire set of circumstances. Their new BlackBerry 7-powered devices must compete with top-tier smartphones from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and HTC (among others) this holiday season, and they’re already feeling the squeeze. Abramsky isn’t the first to notice the dip in BlackBerry sales — Canaccord Genuity’s T. Michael Walkley reported on a similar situation last week in a note to investors, and notes that the new iPhone has helped in removing the wind from RIM’s sails.

“While our September/October checks indicated solid sales of new BlackBerry operating system 7 models, especially the Bold 9000 series as an upgrade enterprise sale, our recent checks indicate slowing sales trends post the launch of the iPhone 4S and price reductions of the iPhone 4 and 3GS,” said Walkley.

Meanwhile, RIM’s BBX-powered lifeboat isn’t expected to see the light of day until the middle of next year, which amounts to ages in the mobile space. A brief look at what could be the company’s first BBX BlackBerry revealed a list of specs that would have trouble wowing customers even now, let alone next year. In spite of everything though, RIM’s upper brass continues to put on a brave face. While on a conference call in September, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said that he felt the company was well-positioned going into the holidays, but we’ll soon see if his confidence was warranted.