RIM now has 80 million subscribers for its BlackBerry services, up from the approximately 78 million announced in its last results release, Thorsten Heins, the company’s CEO, revealed at an event yesterday. While the growth may be small, it is significant because some observers had anticipated that the company would report a flat number in its next quarterly update, scheduled for this Thursday.
RIM is expected to report losses and falling revenue for its most recent quarter, with many observers suggesting that it will be February – after the launch of the delayed BlackBerry 10 – before there is a likelihood of recovery. However, the limited reach of the new devices initially – targeting premium users in a relatively small number of markets – means that the impact could be restricted.
There is also concern that while RIM is able to maintain (and indeed grow) its subscriber base, there has been a shift away from the more lucrative enterprise user base to more price-sensitive consumers, often in emerging markets. This is also likely to impact device average selling prices, as the proportion of low-end devices increases.
According to Reuters, investors will be keeping a close eye on RIM’s cash position, to monitor how the company is preserving its resources in the face of tough operating conditions. Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Partners, said: “Cash ensures a level of survivability and cash makes your partners more comfortable that you are going to be around in the future.”
Bloomberg reports that Frank Boulben, recently-installed CMO of RIM, said the company has met with 30 operators to discuss BlackBerry 10 launch plans, and that the response has been “very positive”. It was said that the company will offer new smartphones powered by the platform across six continents in the first quarter of 2013.
The executive noted that in some Southeast Asian markets, BlackBerry adoption is still outpacing smartphone growth as a whole.
According to Heins, testing of BlackBerry 10 devices by operators is set to begin imminently, with the time taken for this process determining the actual timing of the handset launch – Boulben suggested January or February. It is anticipated that by the end of the quarter, BlackBerry 10-powered devices will be available in around 24 markets.