A Fool Looks Back

While my BlackBerry gently weeps
Maybe they shouldn't be called "smartphones" anymore? Shares of Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM  ) and Palm (Nasdaq: PALM  ) fell after each company posted disappointing quarterly results.

It may not be fair to mention both companies in the same sentence. Palm may have pioneered the booming niche, but it's a fading fringe player today. Meanwhile, RIM's BlackBerry is the gold standard in wireless e-mail connectivity, possibly the only consumer electronics appliance that both presidential candidates can agree upon.

However, both companies burned their investors. Palm posted a wider loss on a top-line hit, but shareholders expected less hemorrhaging. RIM saw its revenue and profit more than double over last year's showing, but Mr. Market was hungry for more.

And things are about to get interesting here. Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) $199 iPhone is now just two weeks away, while Samsung's Instinct hit the market this month at an even lower price point.

The picture may not get any clearer for now. Cheaper phones may be tethered to two-year contracts, but that also makes jumping ship to a rival smartphone all the easier once those carrier terms run out.

Connectivity will remain a growing niche, but it may not necessarily be a smart one for investors, as everyone is out to squeeze the BlackBerry's juice.

Elsewhere in the world of business news...
The dumbing-down of the smartphone industry wasn't the only news on the radar this past week. Let's take a brief look at some of the other nuggets.

  • Forget plastics. If you want a hot tip into the future, try macrame. (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) acquired, a 9-year-old site that sells custom-measured fabrics, patterns, and sewing supplies. As mighty as the leading online retailer may be, it's humble enough to realize that a smaller e-tailer can teach it new tricks.
  • Is the FDA a killjoy? Drugmakers had a rough week, as the regulatory body dealt approval setbacks to Eli Lilly (NYSE: LLY  ) and Merck (NYSE: MRK  ) . Lilly's heart drug and Merck's HPV vaccine aren't dead, but delays are tough in the already interminably long drug approval process.
  • Maybe there's something to the "sell in May and go away" market mentality. June has been a doozy, with the Dow hitting levels last seen in the summer of 2006. Save us, July.   

Until next week, I remain,
Rick Munarriz

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