updated 08:05 am EST, Wed February 11, 2009
BlackBerry Surge in Dec 08
Research in Motion on Wednesday provided a positive surprise with word that it expects its BlackBerry subscriber additions for its financial fourth quarter, which finishes at the end of February, to jump more than 20 percent higher than its originally predicted 2.9 million users. The revision gives RIM at least 3.5 million new BlackBerry users and doesn't include those simply buying the phones without the intention of using RIM's push e-mail, suggesting that the company's sales will ultimately have increased over the past three months despite the ongoing economic crisis.
The Canadian company credits the optimistic view to "record" additions through December that haven't significantly tapered off in the first two months of 2009; the early part of the year normally slows down much more, RIM says. A large part of the spike in sales comes from launching important new phones just ahead of the holiday, such as the Storm and Curve 8900.
More of these customers have also been new users versus those buying replacements or upgrades to existing users. RIM doesn't say which models were more likely to be favored by new users, though the Storm as the company's first touchscreen BlackBerry is said to have attracted customers that would normally have looked to the iPhone or other large-screen devices.
An increase potentially reflects a strong period for smartphones in general, which have been gaining sales in spite of a struggling overall cellphone business. RIM's close rival Apple dropped in sales in its most recent quarter but recorded its fourth quarter between October and December and so would have been more susceptible to the economic crash during the fall; it's not known how iPhone sales have fared in early 2009.