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RIM Ships 14.9 Million BlackBerrys in Q4 – Investors Worry About Guidance

BlackBerry PlayBook Game On

RIM broke their device records again in their fiscal Q4 report. They shipped 14.9 million BlackBerrys in the past quarter and 52.3 in total for the whole of fiscal 2010. Investors are kind of grumpy since RIM pointed out that the first quarter of this year has been heavily focused on selling lower margin devices in the first quarter of this year. That makes sense since RIM did not have new products come out during that time. RIM also said that there is an increased level of investment in their platform and Tablet initiatives. They also throw in that the range of growth might be larger because of supply chain issues that may arise from the earthquake in Japan.

The thing is that I don’t really understand these skeptical investors. First of all RIM has been selling lower margin devices because they are cooking up a new batch of devices that they promise will blow our minds. They are also stretching into the PlayBook market along with developing QNX which explains the investment in future growth. Last but not least I can’t think of any electronic manufacturer that will not be effected in some way by the earthquake in Japan.

All in all I think RIM has a pretty solid set of quarters for the next year. The PlayBook will be a major test for RIM but so far critics just seem to harp on the lack of apps or lack of email client. On the apps side the device will support about 6 development platforms so it should attract developers if significant quantities sell. In terms of an email client are we really worried that RIM will not be able to develop one?

All I can say is times are changing at RIM and they are starting to move quickly. They were a little too complacent but its nice to see them get aggressive.

7 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Well, once I get my hands on an actual PlayBook and RIM makes BlackBerry Java support available for it, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll work on getting LogicMail operational on the thing.

    (I just wish RIM had made any form of Java support available earlier, since completely rewriting a complex application in Adobe Air is not something I really have the time to bother with.)

  2. This is the moment of truth for RIM. The world has noticed the trends that we “geeks” have known about for a while. Of course the world is also behind in the knowledge of RIM’s future plans as eluded to in Ronen’s article.

    That is the key. That is the big question. How will the consumer market respond to the, PB and QNX Blackberry phones, or even the OS 6.1 phones.

    I think the Playbook has allowed RIM to pass the first test. Arguably the biggest test. Now the PB may not blow us away with sales records immediately, but, what it will do is lay a ground work of excellence in tech capabilities. Its all about reputation. People may not go out in droves to by the PB becauase they are skeptical about BB now, but, when they see people with one, talk to people who have one, the tide will change.

    Then when the OS 6.1 phones come, the tide will change even more

    Then the PB 2 or larger PB comes out, boom the tide is now strong.

    Then WHAM! QNX Phones.

    RIM has a game plan. I for one believe in the game plan. Just gotta be patient.

    RIM will need to drop a heavy penny on marketting costs in the next year thats for sure. They have already started laying the ground work in the last 4-6 months. That needs to continue aggressively.

  3. I work in a Business School and so I can be certain about a few things. First markets get things right in the long run, but not in the short run so reaction shortly after a call or an earnings release is no predictor of the future. Also, sadly, I have to say most analysts know little more than the average person. They may read more about the tech sector. But I’d say that most people that come to blogs like this one know far more than the typical analyst commenting on RIM.

    I agree with the post above, It looks like RIM is investing in a longterm plan to face the new changes going on in the market. Opening up the Playbook and QNX on future phones are major moves. Basically this catapults RIM back on the playing field with Moto and Samsung, HTC in that having android apps allows us to focus back on care capabilities of the phone. QNX seems to be a superior OS to Android, Businesses know RIM and as long as their products can make employees happy they have no need to switch, RIM appears to be ready to invest heavily to Rebuild the Blackberry brand. All of these are good signs and I think early stock price changes are an over reaction and a misreading of RIM’s strategic plan.

    • I think RIM’s marketting campaigns coming up need to have a “we are back,” or “see the new Blackberry.” They need to repair the image and compete head on with Apple and Android.

    • Well said.

      I’m glad that RIM is headed up by someone who isn’t reactionary – letting long-term strategy be guided by the short-term whims and fears of the investors. (I’ve worked in such a place. NOT fun. Also not good for the company’s bottom line, in the long term.)

      It really seems like analysts and investors are only looking at what’s happening NOW. This isn’t specific to RIM, but seems to be a popular trend across the tech spectrum at minimum. What can we do NOW to make more money – no matter the cost in the long run.

      I thought investing was about long-term commitment, but more and more that concept is getting lost as the next generation of investors — perhaps the same people raised by folks who consider “no” a dirty word — comes into power.

  4. I think the biggest hurdle for RIM to overcome is the public perception that their devices are primarily for business users. For example, I am an IT student. There is one guy in a class who works in IT and is taking the class since his employer paid for it. He has a work-issued BlackBerry, which he hates. He says BlackBerry is the best device for business due to BES and the ability of BES to lock down company devices. However, his personal device is Android, since he considers it capable of performing fun stuff, such as playing games.

    The average consumer wants more than push email and long battery life. Consumers want to play games, use the browser, etc. The new BlackBerry devices seem like they will have features consumers want, but the hurdle will be attracting those consumers to the platform again once they’ve tried iPhone or Android. For example, if a group of friends want to look up a movie time, the one with the iPhone or Android will probably get the results faster than the one with the BlackBerry, due to the browser differences. If that person switches to Android or iPhone, it would take a lot to get him to try a new BlackBerry just based on commercials he sees. He would need to see other people who have the device and see that it does have a capable browser.

  5. The institutional investors want the short term gains. We customers want the longer term plan, remember most of us lock ourselves in for 2 years.

    Funny thing is, RIM didn’t say they weren’t going to be profitable. They just said they weren’t going to be AS profitable. Long term gain means investing now (which lowers short term profits). My take is its clear RIM has a long term vision. And that’s good news for we users. To h3ll with the short term gain fanatics I say.

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