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9/27/2012
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RIM Earnings To Erase BlackBerry 10 Bounce?

Research In Motion reports quarterly earnings Thursday, and the news could erase the gains its stock price made this week on news of its BlackBerry 10 platform.

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
iPhone 5's 10 Best Features
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Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins has had a busy week. He kicked things off at the company's BlackBerry Jam developer conference in San Jose, where he took the stage to present the latest information about RIM's forthcoming smartphone platform, BlackBerry 10.

The preview of BB10 was somewhat well received by developers, although RIM still managed to make some missteps along the way (see the video at the bottom of this story). Some of the features shown off by RIM include the ability to navigate through the user interface with a single digit. RIM calls this idea BlackBerry Flow. Heins commented that RIM wants its customers to be able to use their devices one-handed.

The other big piece of BB10 is the BlackBerry Hub, which is where all messages--emails, IMs, texts, Facebook, Twitter, et al--land. The Hub can be called up from anywhere else in the user interface thanks to some touch-based gestures, and serves as a master inbox. RIM also talked a bit about the browser, which will lean heavily on HTML5.

The news was encouraging enough to lift RIM's battered stock as much as 7% by the close of trading Wednesday. Even so, RIM's shares are still down 90% from a peak in February 2011.

[ Does the Blackberry maintain a security advantage? Android And BlackBerry Safer Than iOS For SMS. ]

Today, RIM's CEO will face an entirely different audience: investors. They are sure to be less enthusiastic than the developers to whom Heins spoke on Tuesday. The company is due to report its second fiscal quarter earnings after the close of the market, and all signs point to another disastrous period for the smartphone maker.

Forbes believes RIM's revenue will have sunk $2.8 billion with a net loss of about $518 million.

Two vital numbers will be revealed by RIM today: cash on hand, and its cash burn rate. Three months ago, it reported cash assets of about $2.2 billion. If RIM records the $518 million loss Forbes believes it well, that would leave RIM with about $1.7 billion in cash on hand. It's not quite clear how much cash RIM needs to hold onto to fund operations.

"We remain cautious on RIM," said Wedbush analyst Scott Sutherland in a recent note to clients, "and expect FQ2 results to be below expectations, and we expect reduced guidance. While we see some value in RIM, given the lack of content and device ecosystems, we believe RIM's integrated strategy will continue to face significant challenges."

RIM's BlackBerry 10 platform and smartphones aren't expected to arrive for another four or five months. By then, who knows how much cash RIM will have. RIM's current path defines the phrase "leading life on the bleeding edge."

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