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RIM posts big loss, shares surge 18 percent

blackberry rim smartphone market share fallingOn many occasions when a company posts a big loss in its quarterly report, its shares tumble like a sandbag-laden lead balloon, but when struggling mobile maker Research In Motion on Thursday announced a $235 million loss in its fiscal second quarter ending September 1, its shares shot up 18 percent. Why? Because analysts had been expecting worse numbers, that’s why.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the figures for its second quarter:

– $235 million loss compared with profit of $419 million a year ago

– $2.9 billion revenue

– 7.4 million BlackBerry handsets shipped, which is 3.2 million fewer phones than a year ago but a million more than analysts had predicted

– 130,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets shipped

The financial figures come a couple of days after RIM CEO Thorsten Heins announced – against expectations – that BlackBerry subscriber numbers had risen to 80 million for the quarter ending September, up two million from earlier this year, thanks to healthy sales in developing markets. However, in North America its share of the mobile market continues to fall.

Long-term success?

While RIM executives and investors may be sleeping a little more soundly in their beds this evening, Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, sounded a note of caution about the data, telling AP, “They are driving sales in emerging markets and we think they will continue to lose subscribers in developed markets,” adding, “It doesn’t tell you anything about the long-term success of the platform or the company.”

Ah, yes, the long-term future. RIM certainly has a fight on its hands if it’s to climb out of the sticky situation in which it finds itself. According to research firm IDC, BlackBerry’s share of the US market has fallen from 45.8 percent in 2008 to an alarming 2.7 percent in 2012, with Apple’s iPhone and handsets running Google’s Android operating system now dominating the market.

For Ontario-based RIM, everything depends on how its next-generation BB10 operating system and handsets are received by consumers. The problem is, they’re not coming to market until early 2013, giving companies like Apple and Samsung even more time to increase their market dominance.

In a conference call with analysts on Thursday, Heins acknowledged that competitors have launched strong products in recent months but promised that BlackBerry 10 “will advance the operating system environment to a whole new level.”

He needs to be right, and consumers need to be wowed, for if they’re not, the company which was once the world’s leading force in the smartphone market may have no place left to turn.