RIM shares tumble in wake of Apple iMessage announcement

Apple has sent RIM’s share price crashing as it announced its own instant messaging service, iMessage, taking away the BlackBerry manufacturer’s only advantage over the ever-cool iPhone.

RIM’s stock crashed to a 26 month low on Nasdaq as Morgan Keegan and Co downgraded it on the back of the perceived threat that Apple’s new iMessage service poses for the once unbeatable smartphone maker.

Apple announced iMessage at its Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday, as one of the upgrades the new iOS 5 will bring. iMessage, stated Apple, brings the functionality of iPhone messaging to all of your iOS devices, including iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. It will be built into the messages app, allowing the user to send pictures, videos and messages to other iOS 5 users on WiFi or 3G. Like BlackBerry Messanger, iMessage will allow users to see delivery and read receipts, typing indication, and end to end encryption.

BlackBerry smartphones, once the most desired mobile device on the market, have been steadily in decline as flashier, cooler devices have launched from fresh new manufacturers, including Apple and HTC.

Morgan Keegan, which had an ‘outperform’ rating on RIM since September 2008, cut the rating to ‘market perform’, while lowering the price target to $71, from $49. RIM then fell $1.09 (2.8%), to $37.82 on Nasdaq by 4pm New York time, hitting its lowest point since March 2009.

Overall RIM’s shares have dropped 35% this year, against the 2.3% rise overall of the Nasdaq Stock Exchange.