RIM claimed that major PlayBook updates were coming, along with QNX smartphone prototypes, following an announcement of weak corporate earnings.
Research In Motion reported revenues of $4.2 billion for the
second quarter of fiscal 2012, a 15 percent decline from the $4.9 billion it
earned during the previous quarter. The company shipped some 10.6 million
BlackBerry smartphones and around 200,000 BlackBerry-branded PlayBook tablets
during that period.
RIM's aging BlackBerry portfolio continued to drag on the
company's overall financials. "Overall unit shipments in the quarter were
slightly below our forecast due to lower than expected demand for older
models," Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, wrote in a Sept. 15 statement ahead of
the company's earnings call.
RIM is betting that its upcoming generation of QNX-powered
"superphones" will allow it to reclaim the initiative in the ultra-competitive
smartphone space, where it faces determined rivals such as Apple's iPhone and a
growing collection of Google Android devices from various manufacturers. A
version of the QNX operating system currently powers the company's PlayBook
recent report from Bloomberg
suggested that both those QNX superphones and
the PlayBook will eventually support Android applications. Until its
next-generation handhelds hit the market, though, RIM is depending on a new set
of BlackBerry smartphones running BlackBerry 7 OS, which executives insist have
enough collective momentum to carry the company though the launch of its QNX
BlackBerry 7 OS offers faster browsing, smoother navigation,
voice-activated universal search, and preinstalled applications. The new
devices included the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860, with a 3.7-inch touch-screen
and no physical QWERTY keyboard; an ultra-thin update of the Bold; the
BlackBerry Torch 9810, an update of the sliding-keyboard Torch; and BlackBerry
Curves (the 9350, 9360, and 9370).
RIM's quarterly revenues also represented a 10-percent
decline from the year-ago quarter, when it made $4.6 billion. BlackBerry's subscriber
base grew around 40 percent year-over-year, to more than 70 million users.
"We see the next two quarters as lame duck quarters ahead of
QNX and expect full-year guidance to be lowered again," Peter Misek, an analyst
with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a Sept. 15 research note.
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis told media and analysts on the
company's Sept. 15 earnings call that sales of the PlayBook were "below where
we'd like it to be." However, in keeping with his position as co-chief
executive, he suggested that the tablet would "ultimately be successful in a
market that it's in its infancy."
RIM is apparently planning what he termed a "major software
release" for the PlayBook, set for release at an unspecified date after
October's BlackBerry DevCon conference, which will include features such as
built-in native email.
He also promised that QNX smartphone prototypes would arrive
in the "not-so-distant future."
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter