BlackBerry maker RIM has reported huge year-on-year increases in third quarter profit and revenue as the vendor’s efforts to move further into the consumer space appear to be paying off. Revenue for the three months ended November 28, 2009, was US$3.92 billion, a 41 percent increase on the same period last year and an 11 percent rise on the previous quarter. Net income came in at US$628.4 million, a 59 percent improvement on Q3 last year and a jump from US$475.6 million in the prior quarter. RIM sold more than 10 million BlackBerry phones during the third quarter, beating the previous record of 8.3 million, set during the second quarter. By contrast, Apple shipped 7.4 million iPhones in the most recent quarter.

Significantly, more than 80 percent of the Canadian company’s 4.4 million new subscribers in the quarter were non-corporate customers, a sign of the BlackBerry’s popularity among consumers amid intense competition from devices such as Apple’s iPhone, Palm’s Pre and Motorola’s Droid. Strong sales overseas were also a key driver of better-than-expected earnings and forecasts, with chief executive Jim Balsillie calling the vendor’s third quarter its “strongest ever for growth outside of North America,” with 37 percent of revenue and 35 percent of RIM’s subscriber base now coming from those markets. Balsillie also said the company announced an agreement with China Telecom yesterday to offer BlackBerry products and services to customers of the Chinese operator, a week after reaching a similar deal with China Mobile. “The international stuff is going very, very well,” he noted. RIM forecast an even stronger outlook for the fourth quarter. Net subscriber account additions in the fourth quarter are expected to be in the range of 4.4-4.7 million, and the company expects to ship between 10.6 million and 11.2 million handsets. Fourth-quarter revenue is expected to be in the range of US$4.2 billion and US$4.4 billion, beating analysts’ expectation of US$4.1 billion. Shares surged more than 12 percent to US$71.21 in after-hours trading last night.