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RIM, having lost its lead in Canada, looks to weak earnings

Losing its leadership position in Canada may be the least of RIM's worries after the company reports its quarterly results next week.

RIM lost its leadership position in Canada, but that may be the least of its concerns. James Martin/CNET

Research in Motion ceding its smartphone title to Apple in Canada may be seen as a minor hiccup after the struggling RIM posts its fiscal fourth-quarter results next Thursday.

Expectations for RIM this period are decidedly low, with a product line sustained by heavy discounts and the company lacking any new smartphones. It'll mark the first quarterly report for new CEO Thorsten Heins, who has opted to stick with the company's established strategy of a gradual move to its next-generation smartphone platform.

Wall Street analysts have been steadily lowering their earnings and revenue estimates over the past few weeks in anticipation of a rough earnings report.

"We are updating our numbers and lowering our target price to reflect our increased concern regarding the continued erosion of the U.S. business and slowing growth internationally," Macquarie Securities analyst Kevin Smithen wrote last week in a research note.

RIM took some knocks yesterday when Bloomberg reported that the company shipped fewer smartphones than Apple in its home market of Canada. It's a telling sign for a company that is held up as a corporate jewel in that country to lose its leadership position there.

Critics cited the setback as yet another sign that the BlackBerry has lost its appeal relative to flashier smartphones from Apple and Google.

Analysts, on average, predict sales will drop by 18 percent to $4.53 billion, while earnings will fall by more than half to 82 cents a share, according to Bloomberg.

RIM is trying to rally itself for a comeback, but it lacks ammunition in the form of new products. The last halfway successful phone was the BlackBerry Bold. Earlier this month, the company unveiled a keyboard accessory for its PlayBook tablet, a move it hopes will increase the device's business chops.

While RIM unveiled some big improvements to the PlayBook, the device's sales have largely been driven by heavy discounting that has it priced around $200, similar to the Kindle Fire.

RIM is also talking to developers looking to work on HTML 5 apps, according to Slashgear. RIM is hoping that the universal nature of HTML 5 will get some developers interested in the company.

RIM has never been more aggressive in attempting to win over developers. The company hopes to have a stable of apps ready for the launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform, but that isn't expected until the second half.

For now, RIM will have to suffer through another atrocious quarterly report, despite its efforts to ameliorate the situation.