RIM Gains One Million Customers In Three Week Period

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RIM continues to attract more subscribers for its handsets despite the market gloom surrounding it

RIM has managed to lighten the storm clouds that threaten to overshadow it, after the BlackBerry maker revealed a surge in customers using its handsets.

RIM used its TeamBlackBerry Twitter feed to reveal that it had signed more than 1 million new BlackBerry subscribers in less than 3 weeks. This took place in the EMEA region Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“Pow! @BlackBerry continues momentum across EMEA with 1 Million+ new subscribers added in less than 3 weeks,” reads the Tweet.

Market Pressure

The subscriber additions are welcome news for the BlackBerry maker.

RIM is under something of a dark cloud at the moment, as it struggles to maintain a grip on its core enterprise market in the face of a growing challenge from Android and Apple.

The gloom deepened when RIM revealed last month that its first quarter revenues were down 12 percent from the previous quarter to $4.9bn (£3bn). Net income is also down. RIM has also downgraded its revenues forecasts, its shares have dropped 60 percent from their year high, and it has also made redundancies.

However RIM is also doing reasonably well in other areas. Its 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook tablet shipped approximately 500,000 units in the first quarter. During the first quarter RIM also sold approximately 13.2 million BlackBerry handsets.

“The shortfall in the United States is primarily related to the age of the BlackBerry portfolio,” Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive of Research In Motion, told analysts during the company’s 16 June earnings call. Despite that softness in the US market, he cited apparent strength in certain international markets. Overall, international revenue in the first quarter grew 67 percent year-over-year.

Ageing Portfolio

The strong international uptake of BlackBerry devices comes amid analyst concerns that its handset portfolio is ageing, coupled with delays in rolling out new handsets to compete with the likes of the iPhone or Android handsets from Samsung, HTC and Motorola.

Indeed, the last BlackBerry model that RIM shipped was a staggering eight months ago (the Bold 9780). Admittedly, BlackBerrys have a longer shelf-life than rival handsets, but in the consumer space, users expect more variety, more often.

Looking forward RIM is looking to introduce new smartphones based on its QNX operating system, which currently powers the company’s PlayBook tablet. However, these phones aren’t widely expected to reach store shelves before the second half of 2012.

Internal Warfare?

Last month RIM’s management team was faced a blistering attack from an unnamed but reportedly senior RIM employee, who wrote a letter to RIM’s two bosses, co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis. The letter, published on the Boy Genius Report, condemned the chaos within RIM which it said had placed it two years behind the iPhone.

The letter called on Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis to lay off unproductive workers while considering stepping aside themselves. “We are in the middle of a major ‘transition’ and things have never been more chaotic,” the letter says, then lists eight suggestions for changes.

The letter also called on executives to reduce RIM’s product line and to “stop shipping incomplete products that aren’t ready for the end user.”

RIM responded to the contents of the letter by acknowledging RIM’s difficulties, but the company insisted that there is much excitement and optimism about the new products that are lined up for the coming months.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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