The stock is down 27% in early trading following the earnings release for the three months ending June 1 that had something to disappoint everybody. Despite the splashy and long-awaited rollout of the BlackBerry 10 platform, Research In Motion (still the formal name, although it’s doing business as BlackBerry) sold fewer phones than it did in the period last year — and pulled the plug on its PlayBook tablet. Earnings fell short of analyst forecasts. And the company warned that its losses will continue into the current quarter, frustrating analysts who had predicted a profit. In fiscal Q1 Blackberry had a net loss of $84M, an improvement from the $518M loss in the period last year, on revenues of $3.1B, +9.4%. Analysts expected the top line to hit $3.4B. The adjusted loss at 13 cents a share contrast with forecasts for a 5 cent profit. The company reports that it sold 6.8M smartphones in the quarter, down from 7.8M last year, and just 100,000 PlayBooks.
The company formerly known as Research In Motion says its product line is “re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented” with the introduction today of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and two devices: the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. The goal is to make it easy for users to switch between work and personal applications with separate home screens. The Z10 has a 4.2-inch, high-definition touchscreen, while the Q10 has a smaller screen and a physical keyboard. They’ll come with 16 GB of memory, and a slot for a memory card. The back opens, so users can replace the battery. The company says they offer simple ways to launch video chats with multiple applications open. A Screen Share application makes it possible for another user to take charge of the screen. Users can focus the camera via touch screen commands, and manipulate images with a built-in picture editor. The Story Maker application can create videos with music and images edited in. The company says it has more than 1,000 BlackBerry 10 apps including Skype, Amazon Kindle, SAP, Angry Birds, Facebook, Twitter, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and TuneIn. All of the major studios and music companies will offer content on BlackBerry World. The phones are expected to be available in the U.S. by March, and while carriers will determine pricing CEO Thorsten Heins said it likely will be $150 with a three-year contract. He says that musician Alicia Keys will serve as BlackBerry’s creative director. “I broke with you for something with a little more bling,” she said at the rollout event. “Now we’re exclusively dating again.” She says she’ll work with app designers and retailers, and people in entertainment and music, to help bridge the gap between a work phone and a play phone.
UPDATE, Friday, 6:45 AM: Looks like Research In Motion execs’ vague comments last night about their plans for the new Blackberry 10 system quashed investors’ initially warm feelings about the better-than-expected Q3 results. RIM’s stock price dropped nearly 17% shortly after the market opened on Friday. The company warned that it will increase its spending to promote the long-awaited update to the Blackberry platform in late January. CEO Thorsten Heins also said in a conference call that there’ll be new tiered service offerings, but offered no details. He told CNBC this morning that the transition to BlackBerry 10 “is going to be probably one-and-a-half to two years.”
Talk about lousy timing. Shares in Research In Motion are down 6.5% this afternoon after it reported that BlackBerry users in much of Europe and Africa lost their Internet and email services for as long as three hours. The problem affected about 6% of its customers, RIM chief Thorsten Heins said in a note on the company’s site. “I want to apologize to those BlackBerry customers in Europe and Africa who experienced an impact in their quality of service earlier this morning,” he said. “The BlackBerry service is now fully restored and I can report that no data or messages were lost…We are conducting a full technical analysis of this quality of service issue and will report as soon as it concludes.” The interruption hit just as consumers across the globe lined up for their first chance to put their hands on Apple’s new iPhone 5 — which is sure make inroads among the business customers who had been among the most loyal Blackberry users.
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) can use some encouraging news as it loses market share to Apple, Android, and Windows-powered smartphones, and today’s patent licensing deal with Microsoft seems to provide some. The software giant gave RIM the right to use its Extended File Allocation Table that the companies say will make it easier for some BlackBerry devices to transfer “large files for audiovisual media” and facilitate data exchanges between PCs and other devices. The system, called “exFAT,” enables flash memory devices to handle five times more data than they could under Microsoft’s previous “FAT” protocol. “Today’s smartphones and tablets require the capacity to display richer images and data than traditional cellular phones,” Microsoft’s GM of Intellectual Property Licensing David Kaefer says. “This agreement with RIM highlights how a modern file system, such as exFAT can help directly address the specific needs of customers in the mobile industry.” RIM shares popped more than 3% after the mid-day announcement, but retreated shortly afterward to about +2%.
I can just imagine the PR people at Research in Motion wincing today when CEO Thorsten Heins made this comment in an interview in Canada on CBC News’ Metro Morning. “There’s nothing wrong with the company as it exists right now,” he said adding that “this company is not ignoring the world out there, nor is it in a death spiral.” Many investors disagree: RIM’s U.S. shares are down 49% in 2012 — and nearly 75% for the last 12 months — as Blackberry loses market share to Apple’s iPhone and phones powered by Google’s Android operating system. Heins announced last week that he plans to lay off 5,000 employees and delay the Blackberry 10 operating system update to early 2013. Heins acknowledges that RIM “is very, very challenged at the moment — specifically in the U.S. market. The way I would describe it: we’re in the middle of a transition…and I’m positive we will emerge successfully from that transition.” Another RIM exec, Global Sales EVP Rick Costanzo, told the Financial Post today that “I would say a couple of very specific points to the guys who are actually calling for our demise: US$2 billion in the bank and zero debt…We continue to grow net cumulative subscribers — does that sound like a company in demise?”
UPDATED: Bad news for Blackberry owners. The company behind the popular smartphone just reported disastrous earnings for the quarter that ended June 2 — sending shares plummeting about 16% in after-hours trading. RIM had a net loss of $518M, down from a profit of $695M in the period last year, on revenues of $2.8B, down 33%. The Street expected revenues of about $3.1B — and the net loss of 99 cents a share contrasts with analyst expectations of just a one cent loss. “I am not satisfied with these results and continue to work aggressively with all areas of the organization and the Board to implement meaningful changes to address the challenges,” CEO Thorsten Heins says. To that end, the company said today that it is cutting about 5,000 jobs. That and other organizational changes could result in $350M in charges this fiscal year. RIM has been struggling to keep up with competition from Apple’s iPhones and Google’s Android smartphones. But the Blackberry 10 platform, a major update to its operating system, isn’t due until early 2013, Heins told analysts. The integration of new features was “more challenging and time-consuming than anticipated,” Heins says. RIM shares are down 37% so far in 2012 and nearly 68% over the last 12 months.
You can see this from the 6.6% drop in Research in Motion’s stock price today — and the mostly hostile comments over at our sister site, BGR.com. Instead of giving a rebate to millions of people affected by last week’s switching problems, RIM said today that it will let them download a dozen premium games and apps that it values at more than $100, and have a month of free Technical Support. “We are grateful to our loyal BlackBerry customers for their patience,” co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said. “We have apologized to our customers and we will work tirelessly to restore their confidence. We are taking immediate and aggressive steps to help prevent something like this from happening again.”
Well, this is going to make getting a hold of an agent this much tougher around Hollywood: BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has been posting updates on its U.S. site since Monday, when service outages were reported in Europe, India, Africa, the Middle East and throughout Latin America — but not here in the States. Well, that’s changed as of today, when the “core switch failure within RIM’s infrastructure” has begun affecting U.S. customers, who are experiencing messaging and browsing delays owing to a massive backup in data. From RIM this morning in its latest update:
BlackBerry subscribers in the Americas may be experiencing intermittent service delays this morning. We are working to resolve the situation as quickly as possible and we apologize to our customers for any inconvenience. We will provide a further update as soon as more information is available.
It’s certainly impacting Deadline’s writers, who are having trouble receiving emails — and they gets lots of emails. They are just a few of BlackBerry’s more than 70 million customers worldwide. The company has been losing market share in the U.S. due to the growing popularity of rivals such as Apple’s iPhone, but has been adding subs internationally; RIM’s U.S. revenue fell 50% last quarter to $1.11 billion, while sales outside the U.S., U.K. and Canada grew 38% to $2.33 billion. RIM shares have lost about 45% of their value over the last 12 months and in late …