Research In Motion (RIM) proved it’s still in the game, reporting record third-quarter results yesterday. BlackBerry smartphone shipments grew 40 percent over the same quarter last year.
RIM’s revenue also grew 40 percent over the same quarter last year, to $5.5 billion, and it shipped about 14.2 million devices in the quarter. About 5.1 million net new BlackBerry subscriber accounts were added, ending the quarter with a user base of more than 55 million.
Asked during a conference call with analysts about how he felt about RIM’s shipments exceeding Apple’s for the quarter – Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones in its fourth quarter, which ended Sept. 25 – RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie didn’t talk about Apple directly but said he feels “very, very good” about where RIM is in the U.S. market and around the world. More pieces will unfold in 2011 and he said he’s fine just letting the proof be in the deliverables.
Much of the call centered on RIM’s Playbook tablet that will hit shelves early next year. Balsillie said interest from the enterprise sector is strong – Phase 1 shipments will be weighted to business, and RIM is seeing overwhelming pressure to get units out there. He played up RIM’s ability to address the types of security issues that usually make CIOs nervous, noting that he’s spoken with a lot of Fortune 500 CIOs who say enterprise grade is the big concern.
Asked about RIM’s strategy given the Playbook is kind of a “me too” device – having come after the Apple iPad and Samsung Tab, to name a couple – he said the Playbook will redefine what a tablet should do. Its CIO-friendliness is “way ahead” of what’s out there, and pent-up interest in the Playbook is overwhelming.
That said, the Playbook also will come with some consumer-friendly types of integration, working with content, games and media companies.
He pointed out that it’s not just about competition with existing players but about expanding into new things, like the tablet, and mobility is being added to more types of products.
The Playbook is expected to ship first in the United States with other markets to follow. The first version will be Wi-Fi only, with wide area connectivity coming later.
In terms of mobile payments, RIM hasn’t disclosed specifically what it’s doing but Balsillie said it’s not going out on a limb to expect to see near-field communications.
For its fourth fiscal quarter, RIM expects to ship between 14.5 million and 15 million units.
RIM shares, at $60.85, were up more than 2 percent at one point in early morning trading.