RIM loses BlackBerry subscribers for first time

In a statement on Friday, RIM said its global subscriber base at the end of the fiscal third quarter ending 1 December was approximately 79 million users, down from 80 million compared to 1 September.

"Subscribers in North America actually showed the largest decline, while EMEA, Latin and Asia Pac were stable or showed growth," RIM CEO and president Thorsten Heins told analysts on an earnings call. "We are pleased we have been able to maintain a stable subscriber base during this transition year as we head into the launch of BlackBerry 10."

RIM’s sales for the third quarter was $2.7 billion, down 5% from $2.9 billion in the previous quarter and down 47% from $5.2 billion one year ago. 

The revenue breakdown for the quarter was approximately 60% for hardware, 36% for service and 4% for software and other revenue, RIM said.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said it shipped 6.9 million BlackBerry smartphones and approximately 225,000 BlackBerry Playbook tablets during the quarter.

Overall, RIM reported a loss of $114 million during the quarter, or 22 cents a share. This beat analysts’ expectations of a 35 cents loss, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“As we get set to launch BlackBerry 10, we expect competitive market dynamics to continue into the fourth quarter, which will impact unit volumes, subscribers and service fees,” RIM CFO Brian Bidulka said on the earnings call.

“As we have been discussing throughout the year, we will continue to consider using pricing initiatives on BlackBerry 7 devices and service fees in some markets as a way to maintain our subscriber base and drive more BlackBerry users, which will continue to put increasing pressure on service fees in the coming year,” Bidulka said.

RIM is hoping to attract more BlackBerry subscribers and boost sales with the release of its new mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10, on 30 January.

“RIM continued to execute on its product roadmap plans and to deliver on key financial metrics as it gets set for the global launch of BlackBerry 10,” said Heins in RIM’s statement.

“More than 150 carriers are currently completing technical acceptance programmes for the first BlackBerry 10 products, and beta trials of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 are underway at more than 120 enterprises including 64 Fortune 500 companies,” he said.

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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