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RIM Q3: Subscribers and overall sales down, cash pile and PlayBook sales up

research-in-motionBlackBerry maker Research In Motion on Thursday delivered its final set of financial results prior to the launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 platform, a platform it hopes will turn the fortunes of the company around after a difficult few years in the mobile business.

Thursday’s results[pdf] were a mixed bag – the company saw a drop in its subscriber base for the first time in its nearly 30-year history, down from 80 million in the previous quarter to 79 million in this, the company’s third fiscal quarter.

Revenue for the three months ending December 1 dropped a worrying 47 percent year on year, from $5.2 billion to $2.7 billion. The Ontario-based firm announced it had made a net profit of just $9 million in the quarter – compare that with the $265 million profit it turned in 12 months earlier and it’s clear to see by just how much the brand has fallen out of favor with consumers. BlackBerry 10, set to be unveiled at the end of January with a global launch soon after, has it all to do.

On a somewhat brighter note, the mobile maker’s cash reserves increased by $600 million to $2.9 billion, no doubt one of the factors causing RIM shares to rise throughout the day. In fact, its share value has been steadily rising in recent months, from $6 apiece in September to just over $14 now.

Also, the company shipped just over a quarter of a million PlayBook tablets, marking a curiously big rise on the previous quarter, when it shipped about half that figure.

Pressure

As for RIM boss Thorsten Heins, he must be feeling the pressure like few other CEOs on the planet today. He’s doing his best to talk up the BB10 platform prior to launch day, for he knows if it goes down the tubes, he’ll be going down the tubes with it. In October he told a BBC interviewer, “Don’t underestimate the dynamic this platform is going to create in the market.”

Following the publication of the latest set of financial results on Thursday, Heins understandably turned his attention to the soon-to-launch platform.

“More than 150 carriers are currently completing technical acceptance programs for the first BlackBerry 10 products, and beta trials of BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 are underway at more than 120 enterprises including 64 Fortune 500 companies,” he said in a statement. “This is an exciting time and our carrier partners, application developers and employees are all looking forward to unveiling the innovation and excitement of BlackBerry 10 to our customers on January 30, 2013.”

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