RIM back in the red


Reseach In Motion’s progress to being a serious force in again in smart phones remains slow following the release of its latest financial figures.

The company said Friday it sold 6.8 million smart phones in the quarter, up from 6 million in the quarter before. That was wildly less than that 8 million one financial analyst predicted earlier this week.

RIM – which is in the middle of officially changing its name to BlackBerry – also said it is back in the red, suffering an $84 million loss from continuing operations, a reversal from the $94 million profit in the previous quarter.

On the other hand, revenue was up in the quarter to $3.billion.

“During the first quarter, we continued to focus our efforts on the global roll out of the BlackBerry 10 platform,” CEO Thorsten Heins, said in a statement. “We are still in the early stages of this launch, but already, the BlackBerry 10 platform and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 are proving themselves to customers to be very secure, flexible and dynamic mobile computing solutions. Over the next three quarters, we will be increasing our investments to support the roll out of new products and services, and to demonstrate that BlackBerry has established itself as a leading and vibrant player in next generation mobile computing solutions for both consumer and enterprise customers.”
During a call with financial analysts this morning, the company refused to give an indication of what it thinks the current fiscal quarter will hold. Heins said this fiscal year will be one of investment, with next year seeing sustainable growth. Four more BB10 devices will be launched.
Noting that the BlackBerry 10 platform is only five months into its release he that that “a transition takes time.”
The revenue numbers could have been slightly better.. Due to foreign currency restrictions, the company wasn’t able to record revenue from Venezuela. Note also that 40 per cent of smart phone sales came from the new Z10, Q10 and Q5 handsets.
Still, some financial analysts on a conference call this morning questioned Heins about the progress being made. One said he was surprised BB10 sales aren”t higher considering all the marketing money RIM is putting out. Another said  the numbers “seem to have fallen short of a lot of people’s expectations, including our own… unless volumes pick up quite soon you’re going to be a niche player in the smart phone business”

But Heins said he was encouraged by BB10 sales, and the company is executing on its plan. The health of RIM will depend on sales of handsets, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server mobile management platform and monetizing BlackBerry Messenger, he said.”This is a marathon. I’m not looking at the short term.” 

RIM officials will hold a conference call with financial analysts at 8 a.m. Eastern. Details will be posted here.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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