Research In Motion Ltd delayed the make-or-break launch of its next-generation BlackBerry phones until next year, in a devastating setback to the once-dominant technology company whose sales are crumbling.
Shares of the company, which also announced a steeper-than-expected quarterly operating loss and deep job cuts on Thursday, plunged 14 percent after it said it would release its revamped BlackBerry 10 devices early in 2013. It conceded the development had "proven to be more time-consuming than anticipated."
The delay in releasing the devices - RIM's last best hope of stemming its eclipse at the hands of Apple Inc's iPhone and phones using Google Inc's Android software - confirmed the worst fears of analysts and investors.
The size of the loss, RIM's first in eight years, and the likelihood that sales will keep sliding into 2013, severely reduce the options for the company if it is to survive.
RIM's announcement that it would slash 5,000 jobs, or 30 percent of its workforce, only reinforced the impression of a company that could be in terminal decline.
"It's like watching a puppy die. It's terrible," said analyst Matthew Thornton of Avian Securities in Boston.
"Wow, what a disaster," said Edward Snyder, managing director of Charter Equity Research in San Francisco. RIM is now in "a handset death spiral," he said. "From a numbers point of view, it could hardly be worse, and it's going to deteriorate from here," he said.