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BlackBerry Is Back in the Black, Sells a Million Z10 Phones

BlackBerry Is Back in the Black, Sells a Million Z10 Phones
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Analyst Carl Howe sees three groups of natural buyers for devices running on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system: dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry fans; feature phone upgraders; and businesses with BlackBerry Enterprise Server infrastructures. BlackBerry announced a modest $114 million profit for the fourth quarter, but a profit nonetheless.
 


BlackBerry is back. The Canadian smartphone maker has sold a million BlackBerry Z10 smartphones and the roll-out isn't even complete in the United States. With that, BlackBerry is again profitable. Yes, just like that.

Despite all the doom and gloom around the company formerly known as Research In Motion, BlackBerry has risen like a phoenix from the flame to prove them wrong. At least for now. RIM generated $114 million profit on $2.7 billion revenue in its fourth quarter, on 6 million smartphone shipments.

The subscriber base is now 76 million, down 3 million from the third quarter.

Carl Howe, vice president of Research and Data Sciences at the Yankee Group, said Yankee had called BlackBerry's turnaround last year in a couple of research pieces.

"Now, 1 million Z10 sales is only about 2 percent of quarterly iPhone sales, but it's a huge step up for a company many have given up for dead, and to make a profit in the process just shows that the company has far more strength than most people think," Howe told us.

A BlackBerry Prediction

Howe sees three groups of natural buyers for devices running on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system: dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry fans; feature phone upgraders; and businesses with BlackBerry Enterprise Server infrastructures.

Howe said dyed-in-the-wool BlackBerry fans were largely waiting for the release of the new Q10 BlackBerry with a physical keyboard, but they represent a solid 5 percent to 7 percent of smartphone owners and will be thrilled to have a device where they can type e-mails and messages without looking.

"Most feature-phone owners are quite uncomfortable with touch interfaces, so we expect many of them will line up for the Q10 phone as well, although some will give the Z10 a shot," Howe said.

"Many companies invested in BlackBerry Enterprise Servers years ago to manage their smartphone infrastructures and protect corporate content. Businesses who buy Z10s can get more years of use out of those BES servers, meet their security requirements, and not worry about having to manage another new smartphone platform."

His prediction: BlackBerry will surprise everyone and become the third big smartphone ecosystem, moving ahead of Windows mobile because of these natural buying segments. Today's announcement, he said, just reinforces that view.

Lazaridis Retires

BlackBerry also announced that Mike Lazaridis has decided to retire as vice chairman and a director of the company. Lazaridis co-founded BlackBerry nearly 30 years ago and served as a co-CEO of the company until last year when he was elected vice chairman of the board. Thorsten Heins was then hired as the new CEO.

Lazaridis, who last week announced the launch of his new venture, Quantum Valley Investments, will step down from the BlackBerry board May 1.

"With the launch of BlackBerry 10, I believe I have fulfilled my commitment to the board," Lazaridis said. "Thorsten and his team did an excellent job in completing BlackBerry 10. We have a great deal of which to be proud. I believe I am leaving the company in good hands.

"I remain a huge fan of BlackBerry and, of course, wish the company and its people well."
 

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