Goldman Sachs on Monday downgraded BlackBerry after a disappointing launch for the company's new smartphone, the Z10.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Goldman slashed its investment rating on the Canada-based company — formerly known as Research in Motion, or RIM — to neutral from buy, citing weak support for the new product.
"While we thought the international launch was solid, the U.S. launch is critical for BlackBerry's ultimate success," Goldman analyst Simona Jankowski wrote in a research note quoted by the Journal. "Our retail checks at over 20 store locations since March 22, including at AT&T, Best Buy, BBY and Radio Shack, revealed a surprising lack of marketing support and poor positioning of the product. We also saw limited advertising around the launch."
Forbes quotes Citi analyst Jim Suva, who rates BlackBerry a "sell," as saying his checks revealed "shockingly low support by AT&T with extremely limited signage" for the Z10.
The handheld BlackBerry once dominated the smartphone business, but in recent years Apple's iPhone has captured 38 percent of the market. The Z10 has been cast as a "make or break" moment for RIM to make back some ground.
Speaking to The Associated Press last week, CEO Thorsten Heins acknowledged that the U.S. market is essential to the company's future.
"You got to win here to win everywhere else," he said. "That's just the way it is. We've lost market share quite a bit, to put it mildly, and we absolutely need BlackBerry 10 to turn us around."