updated 04:45 pm EST, Thu December 15, 2011
RIM fiscal Q3 2011 show phone recovery, tablet woe
RIM saw a mixed but overall down fiscal third quarter and its last of 2011. The company bounced back in phone shipments from its chaotic summer, climbing from 10.6 million BlackBerry phones to 14.1 million as the BlackBerry 7 revamp took hold. PlayBook shipments were even lower than before, however, and topped at just 150,000 of the tablet as it was still working to clear out unsold stock.
The company noted that its inventory expense costs cut deeply into its profit. It would have made $667 million in profit, but this was cut down to just $265 million.
RIM spun the results by focusing on sequential jumps of a third for smartphone shipments and 24 percent in revenue over the summer, but both were poor relative to the year before. Its 14.1 million BlackBerrys were a 100,000-unit drop from last year's 14.2 million, and its $5.2 billion in revenue was down six points from a year earlier. Apple and Samsung will have likely seen shipments increase sharply over the same period and should lead to major gains in market share for the iPhone and Android.
RIM's outlook for the winter also showed low expectations. It saw revenue getting no higher than $4.9 billion, but only saw itself shipping 11 million to 12 million BlackBerry phones in the winter, well under the 14.9 million from the start of this year. Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis claimed it would take "some time to realize the benefits" of the transition over to BlackBerry 10 devices like the London and that the company's "unique service capabilities" would still give it a leading position.
In tablets, RIM didn't give guidance but won't have its PlayBook 2.0 update until around February and may wait until considerably later in the year for the rumored 10-inch PlayBook, codenamed Black Forest. It has been giving the current seven-inch slate a 60 percent discount that will see it sold at a loss for some time.