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BlackBerry Sales Up, But Not Enough To Stop the Bleeding

BlackBerry Sales Up, But Not Enough To Stop the Bleeding
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Can BlackBerry turn things around with its new Q10, the smartphone with a physical keyboard that just launched? Analyst Jeff Kagan hopes so, but believes hopes are dimmed by this first-quarter performance. One problem, he said, is BlackBerry seems to have forgotten all about its existing and loyal customer base and is designing new products for a new world.
 



For all the celebrating about an apparent BlackBerry revival after positive responses to its new mobile operating system and smartphones, the numbers aren't panning out. The once-dominant handset maker appears to be on the ropes.

Although BlackBerry's revenues rose to $3.1 billion, up 15 percent from the previous quarter, the company nevertheless reported an $84 million loss. So while BlackBerry shipped 6.8 million smartphones in the quarter, a 13 percent rise, it was hardly the home run the company needed. Still, president and CEO Thorsten Heins is spinning a positive story for BlackBerry.

"During the first quarter, we continued to focus our efforts on the global roll-out of the BlackBerry 10 platform," Heins said. "We are still in the early stages of this launch...."

A Leading and Vibrant Player?

Heins went on to say that BlackBerry will be increasing its investments to support the roll-out of new products and services over the next quarter. He said his goal was to "demonstrate that BlackBerry has established itself as a leading and vibrant player in next-generation mobile computing solutions for both consumers and enterprise customers."

Most industry watchers agree it would take a miracle to see that statement come true. According to market research firm Kantar, Android continued to increase its share of smartphones sold over the last year for the three-month period ending in February, with Sprint and Samsung helping fuel that increase.

With 51.2 percent of smartphone sales, Android posted 5.8 percent growth compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, iOS remains in second place with 43.5 percent of smartphone sales, down for a consecutive period, by 3.5 percent versus last year. Windows continued to make gains, up to 4.1 percent of smartphone sales. Only 9 percent owned a BlackBerry.

Can BB Turn It Around?

Jeff Kagan, a telecom analyst in Atlanta, said he can't imagine anyone is happy with BlackBerry performance except maybe BlackBerry competitors.

Can BlackBerry turn things around with its new Q10, the smartphone with a physical keyboard that just launched? Kagan hopes so, but believes hopes are dimmed by this first-quarter performance. One basic problem, he said, is BlackBerry seems to have forgotten all about its existing and loyal customer base and is designing new products for a new world.

"What BlackBerry should have done was create at least one device which was just as familiar as the old devices customers loved, but had new features as well. That would have been a successful approach," Kagan said.

"I want BlackBerry to succeed, so this is very disappointing so far. Let's hope for the best next quarter. Next quarter may be the deciding quarter. If things have not strengthened by then -- well, let's hope they strengthen."
 

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