RIM reports falling phone sales ahead of BlackBerry 10 launch
By Stephen Lawson
Research In Motion reported falling unit sales and revenue in its third fiscal quarter as it geared up for the introduction of its BlackBerry 10 OS next month.
RIM posted a profit of US$14 million, or $0.03 per share, from continuing operations in the quarter that ended Dec. 1. It sold 6.9 million BlackBerry phones, down from 7.4 million in the previous quarter, and just 255,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.
The company expects to lose money in the current quarter and warned sales of its current products, based on BlackBerry 7, could be hurt as customers hold off for BlackBerry 10 phones. RIM will continue to consider price incentives on BlackBerry 7 devices and services to maintain its subscriber base and drive adoption, the company said in a news release.
The first BlackBerry 10 products are going through technical acceptance programs at more than 150 mobile operators around the world, and more than 120 enterprises are participating in beta testing of the devices, RIM said.
RIM’s revenue in the quarter was $2.7 billion, down 5 percent from the previous quarter’s figure and down 47 percent from a year earlier. But the revenue number beat the consensus forecast of $2.66 billion from analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.
The company’s adjusted net loss, excluding certain factors such as an income tax benefit, was $114 million or $0.22 per share. Analysts had forecast a loss of $0.35.
RIM is betting its future on BlackBerry 10, which is scheduled to be announced on Jan. 30 in New York. The OS, which has been delayed several times, is widely considered the company’s last chance to claim a viable place in the smartphone business.
Service providers that will sell the first BlackBerry 10 phones will announce availability dates at the time of RIM’s launch event, RIM President and CEO Thorsten Heins said on a conference call to discuss the financial results.
After the new platform is launched, RIM will continue development on the current BlackBerry 7 platform and may even introduce some new devices using that OS, Heins said. Sales of current BlackBerry smartphones are growing in some parts of the world, especially in some Asian countries, he said.
Also on the conference call, Heins said that starting with BlackBerry 10, RIM will let its customers pick and choose BlackBerry security and other services from a menu rather than paying for the entire bundle.