Without Q10 smartphones in the U.S., BlackBerry returned to the red during its fiscal 2014 first quarter. It also rang the PlayBook's death knell.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins repeated that his company is running a marathon, not a sprint, during a June 28 conference call to discuss the results of BlackBerry's fiscal 2014 first quarter.
Following last quarter's surprise profits
, BlackBerry surprised again, this time with a loss of $84 million. While an improvement on the $518 million loss the company posted a year ago, the news sent BlackBerry shares falling by 20 percent before the market opened.
BlackBerry shipped 6.8 million smartphones during the quarter, 2.7 million of which were BlackBerry 10 devices.
Last quarter, BlackBerry shipped 6 million smartphones, of which 1 million were BlackBerry 10 phones.
"I'm confident in the future of BB10, but there's lots of work to do still. So it's going to be an ongoing effort, it's not going to be automatic," said Heins. "It's a highly competitive smartphone market, so you've got to be on your tippy toes all the time. ... This is a marathon, and with our financials, we're ready to run that marathon."
Heins also broke the news during the call that, despite earlier promises, the company won't be releasing a BB10 version of its PlayBook tablet. (Perhaps not entirely shocking news, given Heins' earlier comments to the media
"I made the difficult decision to stop these efforts," said Heins, adding that he believes it's better to focus on more key hardware initiatives. BlackBerry plans to launch one additional phone this year.
"We are only five months into a platform transformation that will drive the company ... for many years to come," said Heins. "What is exciting about BlackBerry today is we are getting comfortable with who we are today and how we will fit in the market."
BlackBerry introduced its long-awaited new platform in January
, though U.S. carriers didn't begin selling the touch-screen-centric BlackBerry Z10 until late March
The BlackBerry Q10, the first BB10 device with the dedicated keyboard loved by BlackBerry enthusiasts, has been slow to follow in the United States, due to the extensive testing U.S. carriers need to perform. BlackBerry's first quarter closed June 1, but Verizon Wireless didn't begin selling the Q10 until June 5, which was the day AT&T said it would start accepting preorders.
Sprint has committed to begin offering the Q10 in "late summer."
In May, BlackBerry introduced the BlackBerry Q5, a lower-end QWERTY smartphone for the Asia-Pacific region and developing markets. It arrived in Dubai last week, and during the second quarter is expected to launch with 106 carriers.
"It is indeed early days, especially with the Z10 and Q10, which will appeal more to corporations than consumers," Gartner Research Vice President Carolina Milanesi told eWEEK