updated 05:10 pm EDT, Thu March 24, 2011
RIM winter 2011 sees 14.9m BlackBerrys ship
RIM on Thursday reported strong results for its winter but had a dim outlook for the spring. The company shipped 14.9 million BlackBerry phones, up a relatively modest amount from 14.2 million in the spring. It again had exceptional profits and saw its net income climb nearly 32 percent to $934 million, based on sheer revenue of $5.5 billion.
Estimates for the spring quarter were virtually flat, however. The smartphone maker estimated that its revenue would be flat or drop, ranging between $5.2 billion to $5.6 billion. It blamed the wide range partly on possible supply problems in the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake but also blamed shifts in what people would buy. Many were expected to skew towards "lower ASP devices" like the BlackBerry Curve 3G rather than high-end models. Marketing and work for the BlackBerry PlayBook would also likely cut into revenues, RIM said.
Anxiety around the sub-par predictions led to a massive stock sell-off that saw the price drop more than ten percent after hours.
The current results show a healthy foundation for RIM but could also see it lapped by Apple a third time in a row. Neither's quarter overlaps the other, but Apple shipped 16.1 million iPhones in the fall and historically tends to see sales kept steady or climbing upwards. The fall was the last quarter before the Verizon iPhone launched and may have led to numerous BlackBerry switchers who had declined to jump to AT&T.
Much of RIM's spring performance will hinge on the PlayBook's April 19 launch and whether customers are drawn to its inaugural tablet. Although it has a very high-speed dual core processor, better cameras and the same pricetag as the Wi-Fi iPad, it lacks both a large catalog of third-party apps and even won't have a mail client of its own on launch for those that can't tether a BlackBerry.