The first earnings report from BlackBerry since its new phone launched is mostly good news—the company reported $94 million in profit and $1.2 billion in revenue—but there is one alarming figure: the 3 million customers the company has lost over the last three months. Even with a million Z10 devices sold, the company "lost about a million more subscribers" than analysts were expecting, according to analyst Jefferies analyst Peter Misek. Now that they see the numbers, their theory is that loyal BlackBerry subscribers with old devices didn't upgrade to new BlackBerry ones, instead ditching the Canadian phone company for competitors—even though BlackBerry launched a new gadget just for those people this quarter. In other words, the phone that was supposed to save BlackBerry, the Z10, hasn't done so yet.
To be fair, the catch-up gadget was only announced at the end of January, and there's been a slow roll out since then, debuting first in the United Kingdom around February 4. So, this quarter's earnings, which ended March 2, only represent about a month of phone sales. But even so, a reported 1 million Z10 devices sold in one month doesn't look too promising for the wannabe comeback story—especially since the former keyboarded phone king launched in some of its strongest markets first. Say the phone maker kept up those sales for three months in a row, it would only break even, adding as many customers as it lost, which is better than shrinking and dying forever, but not quite good enough. "1m BB10 sales in 1-2 months isn't terrible. Not out of the woods by a long way though," tweeted mobile analyst Benedict Evans.
Though, some analysts are more optimistic that the new device additions could counterbalance the losses. "The numbers suggest that they're on a recovery path," Misek added. "Obviously the bigger issue is BlackBerry 10 sales going forward, but if you do look back at the February quarter, I think you had more positives than negatives," said another analyst. The Z10 just launched in some markets and because of its very different operating system could take some getting used to. This report does not include U.S. sales, for example. (Though, it saw a "tepid" U.S. launch, if store lines are any metric.) The number also show that 55 percent of Z10 owners came from a rival carrier, which shows renewed interest from the non-loyalist crowd. Also, BlackBerry hasn't released its other new phone: The Q10. It's possible that people haven't lined up for the keyboardless iPhone-ish clone because they're holding out for a more familiar looking device. The Q10, which doesn't come out until April or May, looks more like BlackBerry best-sellers of yore with its physical keys. So, there's still hope.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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