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RIM Continues to Rack Up Subscribers

Canada’s Research in Motion has released its financial results for its fourth quarter and 2010 fiscal year (PDF), and revealed that the company signed up a record number of new subscribers during its end-of-year holiday quarter—and if it weren’t for a single carrier changing its inventory policy during the quarter, the company would have made its fourth-quarter sales expectations.

“We managed to significantly expand our international market share while also maintaining our long-standing leadership in North America where BlackBerry continues to be the top selling smartphone brand,” said RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie, in a statement. “We are off to a great start in fiscal 2011 and expect strong shipments, revenue, subscriber, and earnings growth in Q1.”

For the quarter, RIM reported some $4.08 billion in revenue, an 18 percent year-on-year increase, with 35 percent overall revenue growth for the fiscal year. Although that gain does not match the phenomenal growth the company has experienced in the past, RIM did add a record 4.9 million subscribers during the fourth quarter, bringing the total BlackBerry subscriber base to over 41 million, some 65 percent higher than it was during the prior fiscal year. RIM also finished the yeaar with with margins higher than many industry-watchers expected.

RIM executives hinted that new products rolling out this year will keep the company competitive with the likes of the iPhone and Android-based smartphones—for instance, last year RIM acquired Torch Mobile to improve its BlackBerry browser. However, a slowdown in revenue growth coupled with a record number of new subscribers has some industry watchers concerned RIM may be parlaying for dominance of the mid-range to low-end of the smartphone market…and if there’s one thing Apple has proven, it’s that smartphone users will pay a premium for a compelling device. Nonetheless, RIM was the top-selling smartphone brand in the United States at the end of 2009…and that’s saying something.

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