Research In Motion's BlackBerry remains a strong brand despite competition from Google Android and the Apple iPhone, the enterprise mobility company insists in an earnings call for its fiscal second quarter.
Reports of the BlackBerry's imminent demise at the hands of the Apple iPhone
and Google Android devices may have been premature, at least based on Research
In Motion's latest quarterly numbers.
For the second quarter of fiscal 2011, RIM reported quarterly revenues of
$4.62 billion, a year-over-year growth of 31 percent. On Sept. 16, the company
also reported shipments of 12.1 million BlackBerry units, an increase of 45
percent over the same quarter in 2009. Net income was $796.7 million, a rise
from the previous quarter's $768.9 million.
RIM also reported 4.5 million net BlackBerry subscriber accounts added
during the quarter, raising RIM's total subscriber base to more than 50
"This accomplishment and RIM's solid financial results during the
second quarter were driven by effective business execution and strong demand
for RIM's portfolio of BlackBerry smartphones and services in markets around
the world," Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of
RIM, said in a Sept. 16 statement. "We expect a continuation of this
momentum in the third quarter as we extend the rollout of new products,
including the BlackBerry Torch, into additional markets."
RIM's latest attempt at a cutting-edge smartphone, the BlackBerry Torch
9800, is meant to appeal to both consumers and businesses. In addition to having
a sliding QWERTY keyboard, the device, carried exclusively by AT&T in the
United States, is the first to run the new BlackBerry 6 OS, which includes
features such as unified social-networking feeds, wireless syncing with
DRM-free music on a user's PC and a Universal Search application that allows
users to scan for content on both the device and the Web.
"In order to create a bulwark against incursions in their market from
Apple and Google, RIM needs to expand its footprint," Charles King, an
analyst with Pund-IT Research, told eWEEK Aug. 3. "RIM became the device
of choice in the business market because they represented the cutting edge of
that market five, six, seven years ago."
But the Torch 9800 may have met with initial lukewarm response. According to
analysts at RBC Capital Markets and Stifel
Torch 9800 sold only 150,000 units
the weekend following its Aug. 12 wide release. On top of that, Morgan
Stanley is estimating a total of 600,000 shipped. In comparison, Apple's iPhone
4 sold more than 1.7 million units during its first three days of release.
During the Sept. 16 earnings call, RIM executives suggested the Torch 9800's
reception was warmer than analysts believed. "We are pleased with the
positive impact," Balsillie told analysts and media. "Torch
sell-through run rates have more than tripled in AT&T stores."
However, he offered no specific sales numbers.
Balsillie indicated that several large enterprise customers, RIM's
traditional backbone, had BlackBerry 6 OS on an accelerated adoption schedule.
He also described RIM's discussions with India
and other countries about BlackBerry encryption
as "positive" but
declined to offer details.
On Sept. 14, RIM unveiled the latest version of its lower-end BlackBerry
The device ships with BlackBerry 5 OS, although RIM claims it is "BlackBerry
6-ready." The Curve 3G includes a 2-megapixel camera with zoom and video
recording, built-in GPS, a MicroSD/SDHC card
slot for expandable memory up to 32GB, and access to BlackBerry App World.
RIM said it expects its revenues to reach $5.30 billion to $5.55 billion
next quarter. However, the BlackBerry franchise will face competition from the
upcoming Windows Phone 7, as well as the rapidly growing number of devices
running Google Android.