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BlackBerry sinks to zero sales in 'a meaningful number' of stores

An analyst claims that BlackBerry devices are being squeezed from retailer shelves, further hurting RIM's chances of turning things around.


Research In Motion has several things to worry about. But who knew shelf space was one of them?

Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette told All Things Digital in an interview published today that his retail checks indicate "BlackBerry sales were largely unchanged in August versus July; however, we detected meaningfully lower inventory levels versus a month ago." Translation? Carriers are content with fewer BlackBerrys, since they might not sell many of them.

In fact, Faucette said that he found "a meaningful number of carrier retail locations which had not sold a single BlackBerry in over a month."

It's no secret that RIM is in trouble. The company reported a dismal fiscal first quarter in June, losing a breathtaking $518 million. BlackBerry smartphone shipments hit just 7.8 million units during the period, down 41 percent compared with the prior year.

The problem for RIM is that the company needs help from carriers in order to turn things around. The mobile firm, like any other handset vendor, relies on companies like Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and Sprint to promote its products and drive customers to them. If what Faucette says is true, however, it doesn't appear that carriers are playing nice.

But why should they? RIM's BlackBerry devices are obviously having trouble appealing to consumers, and carriers have a responsibility to their own shareholders to sell as many products as possible. In keeping with that responsibility, they have no choice but to promote the iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy line, and ignore BlackBerrys.

Still, RIM isn't ready to call it quits yet. The company has said time and again that BlackBerry 10, the mobile operating system it plans to launch in the first quarter of 2013, will help it revitalize its business. But with the iPhone 5 being announced tomorrow and Android continuing to gain market share, it might be more difficult for RIM to reach its goals by then, according to Faucette.

"Even assuming that BlackBerry 10 devices roll out on time starting in 2013, we believe the clear evidence of shelf-space pressure our checks have detected does not bode well for the company in the longer term," he told All Things Digital.

CNET has contacted RIM for comment on Faucette's comments. We will update this story when we have more information.