RIM Subscriber Base Sees Slight Growth
September 26, 2012

RIM Grew Net Subscribers On Strength In Emerging Markets

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) grew its subscriber base from 78 million to 80 million during the recent quarter, said chief executive Thorsten Heins on Tuesday during the BlackBerry 10 Jam conference in San Jose, California.

The news surprised many analysts and investors, and helped lift shares of RIM´s stock nearly 5 percent during Tuesday´s trading session.

Most analysts had expected the Ontario, Canada-based company to see its total subscriber base begin to shrink this quarter amid a rapid loss of market share in North America as customers replaced older BlackBerry models with newer devices from Apple and Samsung.

RIM has spent the last several months aggressively working on a new line of smartphones that will run on the BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system.

Until those devices are launched, RIM must rely upon its existing, older devices, which have struggled to compete against rivals like the iPhone 5 and a number of new Android devices.

But RIM was apparently able to overcome these challenges and grow its subscriber base by enticing price-conscious buyers in emerging markets with its lower-end devices.

RIM is expected to announce results for its fiscal second-quarter on Thursday, when investors will be able to see whether the company´s lower-end device growth has put a squeeze on profits.

During Tuesday´s event, Heins noted that RIM has received positive feedback on its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones from several wireless carriers that have previewed the device.

"We are making believers out of our partners. We are making believers out of those who had previously written BlackBerry off," he said.

"BlackBerry 10 is our most important launch ever. And it is the most exciting launch I have ever led in my career," he said.

RIM said it plans to launch the BlackBerry 10 smartphone on six continents early next year. The broad rollout demonstrates the company´s efforts to capitalize on its remaining strength abroad.

RIM´s Chief Marketing Officer, Frank Boulben, told Bloomberg News that 30 carriers have now seen the BB10 operating system, and all have praised the new platform.

“We´ve been hearing things like, ℠Unique, revolutionary, really slick,´” he said.

RIM´s stock has fallen 57 percent this year. The company must now persuade carriers, developers and North American customers to embrace its new platform, which RIM says offers improvements in speed, user interface and applications. In particular, RIM is touting the platform´s ability to run multiple programs at once, making it easier for enterprise customers to be productive.

Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations, told conference attendees that BB10 will work with popular apps from social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare Labs.

Meanwhile, Heins demonstrated some of BB10´s new features, including BlackBerry Balance, which lets users switch between work and personal screen displays, and a retro-orange alarm clock that is set by rotating a finger around the dial.

The precise timing of the launch of BB10 will be up to carriers in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa, and will be a function of how long they take to test the handsets, Boulben said.

“Lab entry at some carriers can take as little as six to nine weeks and for some carriers, 16 to 20 weeks.”

“That explains with a carrier whether it will be January or February.”

BB10 will be the first truly new smartphone operating system since Apple´s original iPhone launch in 2007, Boulben said.

“In the last five years there hasn´t a groundbreaking new experience and we believe in this one you have all the ingredients.”