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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.

BlackBerry CEO Heins claims that 55 percent of new Z10 users are coming from other mobile platforms, which seems to suggest the Z10 and BlackBerry 10 are attracting users away from iOS and Android, at least to some extent. And loyal BlackBerry users who value the traditional BlackBerry keyboard are likely waiting for the release of the QWERTY-equipped Q10, so BlackBerry could see a notable boost in sales later this spring when that device hits store shelves.

Finally, Mr. BlackBerry himself, Mike Lazaridis said today that he will step down from the BlackBerry board of directors on May 1. Lazaridis is the man behind the first BlackBerry, and his departure signals the official end of an era for BlackBerry. Lazaridis's former co-CEO Jim Balsillie relinquished his seat on the BlackBerry board almost exactly one year ago today, and he cut all official ties with the company last month when he sold off all of his BlackBerry stock.

In an interview with Lazaridis back in 2008, just as the iPhone was starting to present itself as a real BlackBerry competitor and before the company formerly known as Research In Motion (RIM) started the downward spiral it's now trying to reverse, the then-CEO was brazenly bullish on how the iPhone would never replace the BlackBerry.

Despite a generally-negative outlook from investors and analysts, BlackBerry 10 appears to making forward progress, at least for the time being. And not everyone is negative.

Jack Gold, founder and principal analyst with J. Gold Associates, cautions that initial reports of slow BlackBerry 10 sales at U.S. wireless-carrier retail stores arent necessarily a good indicator or overall success or a lack thereof.

"BlackBerry still has a very significant install base in the enterprise. It remains to be seen [the platform can be successful]," Gold says. "I'm skeptical of [retail] sales numbers. Enterprises don't buy in retail, first of all. So, you don't see lines at AT&T stores. I think everyone expects the new BlackBerry to take off like a shot, like the Galaxy SIII, but I'm not sure that's fair."

As for the earnings announcement, Gold says:

"Given the expectations that most had, [BlackBerry] did quite well. They had a profit and more importantly increased their cash position. That means they have the capacity to invest in marketing the new devices.

"The loss of subscribers is troubling, of course, especially in a key market like the US. But the new devices really werent available yet to stem the losses. Its the next 1-2 quarters that will really tell the story of how well the devices are being received in the US.

"The bottom line is BlackBerry is certainly not dead yet, and I think its a mistake to count them out yet, even though they still face some significant hurdles to overcome."


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