RIM READY TO LAUNCH BLACKBERRY 10
By Prince Osuagwu
President and CEO of Research In Motion Limited, RIM, makers of the popular Blackberry device, Mr Thorsten Heins, last week, provided a business update of the company, painting a picture of hope for a company severally reported to have been a bit under stress.
But the most interesting aspect of his outing was the announcement of the company's readiness to launch Blackberry 10 before year end.
'During the Q4 2012 and fiscal year-end financial results conference call on March 29, I said that I would provide our shareholders with candid and timely updates when possible on the progress and challenges RIM is experiencing. While we are no longer giving quantitative financial guidance, I wanted to provide a brief business update at this time, and will provide more details when our Q1 financial results for the quarter ended June 2, 2012 are released on June 28.
In terms of challenges, as I mentioned on the March financial results conference call, RIM is going through a significant transformation as we move towards the BlackBerry 10 launch, and our financial performance will continue to be challenging for the next few quarters.
The on-going competitive environment is impacting our business in the form of lower volumes and highly competitive pricing dynamics in the marketplace, and we expect our Q1 results to reflect this, and likely result in an operating loss for the quarter. We are continuing to be aggressive as we compete for our customers' business - both enterprise and
consumer - around the world, and our teams are working hard to provide cost-competitive, feature-rich solutions to our global customer base.
On the positive side, we expect to further increase our cash position in Q1 from the approximately $2.1 billion we had at the end of fiscal 2012.
Progress and challenges
Despite the current challenges, we have made significant progress on a number of fronts in the past few months. Our annual BlackBerry World conference and BlackBerry 10 Jam took place earlier last month and both were tremendously successful. More than 5,000 developers, partners, carriers and enterprise customers from 115 different countries saw the first glimpses of our next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform and their response was encouraging.
Our developer partners have been enthusiastic with the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha prototype unit we distributed at BlackBerry World and many are well underway in developing applications to be ready for the launch of BlackBerry 10 in the latter part of calendar 2012.
The support and enthusiasm from our developer community is also reflected in our app growth, where we now feature more than 80,000 apps, which represents a 220% increase from one year ago, and more than 15,000 apps for PlayBook compared to less than 2,000 last year. We believe this bodes well for our ecosystem as we get set to launch BlackBerry 10.
We are also making steady progress with the innovation of our next generation BlackBerry 10 mobile computing platform, which is still on track to launch in the latter part of calendar 2012.
Our global subscriber base continued to grow this quarter to approximately 78 million, driven primarily by growth in international markets, which is partially offset by high churn in the United States, and our BBM user base has grown to approximately 56 million users globally.
Our strong brand internationally was recently enhanced with the successful launch of two new BlackBerry 7 phones in India and Latin America.
We continue to make strategic changes to RIM's senior management team with the hiring of two key new members to RIM's executive leadership team. Kristian Tear, our Chief Operating Officer, whose background also includes extensive experience in international sales in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and Frank Boulben, our Chief Marketing Officer, who will provide our team with deep experience in the mobile computing and communications industry. Both will assist
me and the existing executive team as we continue to make the organizational changes necessary to position RIM for the future and prepare for the launch of our new BlackBerry 10 platform.