RIM Reports Solid Q1, but Remains Coy About Tablet Plans

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion on June 24 reported revenue of $4.24 billion during its fiscal year 2011 first quarter. It was less straightforward regarding the "two significant product additions" it will release later in the year. According to an earlier report, RIM is said to be working on a tablet rival to Apple's iPad.

Research In Motion announced the results of its fiscal 2011 first quarter, during which it shipped its 100 millionth BlackBerry smartphone.

Revenue for the quarter was $4.24 billion, up from $4.08 billion the quarter before and up 24 percent from the same quarter a year ago. Net income for the quarter was $769.9 million - up from $643 million a year ago.

RIM added 4.9 million net new subscriber accounts during the quarter, bringing its total to 46 million, and grew shipments of BlackBerry handsets by more than 43 percent over the first quarter of 2010.

"RIM achieved significant earnings growth and shipped a record 11.2 million devices during the first quarter," said Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM, in a statement. "We continue to be focused on growing our business globally and we believe that the range of exciting new BlackBerry products being released in the coming months will create significant opportunities to accelerate RIM's growth in the second half of the fiscal year."

Whether those "exciting new BlackBerry products" include a tablet device - as the Wall Street Journal earlier this month reported that RIM is working on, along with a touchscreen-based smartphone with a slideout keypad - Balsillie wouldn't comment on during a June 24 call with media and analysts.

Balsillie did say, however, that RIM has "two significant product additions" coming out later in the year that will significantly affect either its second- or third-quarter earnings.

One analyst on the call noted that AT&T was strongly aligned with RIM-competitor Apple, and Sprint seemed to be aligning with Android. The analyst asked, "so where does that leave RIM? What will motivate customers to buy a BlackBerry 6 product instead of, say, the new iPhone 4 or an Android product?" Balsillie grew defensive, saying the caller should be careful about his implicit and explicit assumptions, and that everyone would "just have to watch and see what the plans are."

When later asked about RIM's media strategy, Balsillie again pointed to the near future.

"Once you see the new app world we talked about, and once you see the new platforms. You'll be all very surprised ... You'll just be really surprised by it, and I think you'll just be amazed by how it's a quantum leap over anything that's out there," Balsillie insisted.

"I don't think you'll have to wait too, too long to see powerful and tangible manifestations of this," Balsillie said. "I think the media-consumption side of this in different form factors, in very tangible commercial and technical ways, is poised for redefinition here. And I think there's some credibility, because we've played redefining roles in mobile computing in the past."

Discovery of just what those new form factors are will have to wait until RIM is ready to talk about them - which, again, shouldn't be too long.

"I just wish I could wind the clock forward a few weeks," Balsillie continued. "You'll say, -I get it now.' When you see the pieces come together you'll say, -Now I see what they were doing.' And it is really powerful."

RIM's estimated revenue for its fiscal 2011 second quarter, which ends Aug. 28, is in the range of $4.4 billion to $4.6 billion. New subscriber additions are expected to be between 4.9 million and 5.2. million subscribers.