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BlackBerry earnings, shipment numbers show forward progress

Al Sacco | April 1, 2013
BlackBerry released its latest fiscal earnings, and the report is largely positive. A return to profitability and promising sales numbers, among other things, indicate the company is slowly regaining relevance.

In the past week, BlackBerry launched its BlackBerry 10 platform and the first BlackBerry 10 device, the Z10, in the United States. The company reported its fourth quarter and year-end 2013 fiscal earnings, which showed a surprise return to profitability. It announced that global Z10 sales have topped 1 million devices since the official BlackBerry Z10 launch at the end of January, and that doesn't include U.S. sales numbers. And the man who invented the very first BlackBerry, Mike Lazaridis, left the company for good when he stepped down from his seat on the BlackBerry board of directors.

To sum that all up, it was a big week for BlackBerry and one that showed a few steps, albeit small steps, in the right direction for the company that is desperately trying to regain some relevance--and market share--in the competitive mobile space.

First some more details on those earnings. I won't get into too many specifics; if you want details, check out the BlackBerry release for yourself. But here are the most notable figures:

Revenue for fiscal Q4 2013 was $98 million, or $0.19 per share diluted, compared to 2012 fiscal Q4 loss of including loss of $125 million, or $0.24 per share diluted.

BlackBerry reported a current subscriber base of approximately 76 million, a loss of about 3 million users, which CEO Thorsten Heins attributed largely to the loss of prepaid customers.

BlackBerry shipped 6 million smartphones, including approximately 1 million BlackBerry 10 units, in fiscal Q4.

Sales are down 36 percent, to $2.68 billion, compared to a year ago.

And now some perspective:

BlackBerry earnings topped analysts' average projections, which suggested the company's shares would drop by 29 cents on revenue of $3.85 billion dollars, according to Thomson Reuters. But the companies is still bleeding subscribers, which isn't exactly surprising given BlackBerry's fall from grace during the past years and the fact that BlackBerry 10 has only been available for two months. The device was released less than a week ago in the United States.

Even in the best case scenario--BlackBerry Z10s fly off the shelves in the coming months and build momentum for the upcoming BlackBerry Q10 launch--it will still take some time for those gains in subscribers to balance out the considerable recent loses.

One million devices shipped to date is no small number, either. When you consider the fact that this sales figure doesn't include U.S. sales because the device just went on sale in America last week, it's even more impressive. In comparison, Samsung, one of the mobile market leaders along with Apple, said last November that it had some 5 million Galaxy Note II devices in the first two months after its launch. That's a significantly larger number than the one million Z10s sold, but that's global sales, and Samsung wasn't facing the same negative market perception that BlackBerry is.


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