BlackBerry readies “aggressive” marketing push after sales bump

BlackBerry maker RIM is preparing a major marketing drive to “aggressively” drive sales after reporting a smaller than expected loss and increased sales in the second quarter.

BlackBerry

RIM reported a loss of $235m (£144m) in the quarter to 1 September, compared with a profit of $419m (258m) the year earlier. The 45 cents a share loss was slightly less than analysts’ predictions of 47 cents per share.

The company made $2.9bn (£1.8bn) in revenue in the quarter, up 2 per cent from the previous quarter but down 30 per cent year on year. Sales outside the US – where the company continues to lose market share to Apple and Samsung – accounted for 58 per cent of total revenue, particularly driven by demand for lower-end smartphones in Indonesia, South Africa and Venezuela.

It shipped 7.4 million smartphones in the quarter, again beating analyst estimates, who forecast RIM would only sell 6.4 million devices as consumers and businesses prepare for the launch of its delayed operating system BlackBerry 10. It also shipped 130,000 PlayBook tablets.

RIM says it is investing in a targeted marketing and sales programme to “aggressively” drive sales of devices running the BlackBerry 7 operating system ahead of BlackBerry 10’s launch.

It expects to report an operating loss in the third quarter as it plans to heavily invest in marketing associated with BlackBerry 10’s launch, which is set for the first quarter of 2013.

RIM is banking its future on the new operating system, which brings BlackBerry technology for multimedia and apps more in line with its rivals. Technology analyst Rob Enderle, of the Enderle Group, told the BBC that BlackBerry 10 could offer RIM the opportunity for a comeback with the business market, given that the enterprise sector is concerned about Android’s security and Apple’s “prevalence”.

Thorsten Heins, RIM’s president and CEO, says: “Make no mistake about it, we understand that we have much more work to do, but we are making the organisational changes to drive improvements across the company, our employees are committed and motivated, and BlackBerry 10 is on track to launch in the first calendar quarter of 2013.”

The company has laid off more than 2,500 employees in recent months and plans to cut the same amount again in the coming months to try and stem its losses. This has helped increase its cash position to $2.3bn (£1.4bn), up from $2.2bn (£1.35bn) the previous quarter, which it is likely to dip into as it prepares its marketing push for BB10 later this year.

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