BlackBerry to offer ’super phone’, as shares slip (Lead)

March 25th, 2011 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, March 25 (IANS) Shares of Research In Motion (RIM) sank as much as 12 percent during after-hour trading Thursday as the BlackBerry maker hinted at less-than-expected results in the current quarter while releasing its fourth quarter earnings. The gloomy forecast came amid mounting excitement about the company’s PlayBook tablet due for release April 19.

According to Thursday’s results, RIM netted a $934-million profit on total revenue of $5.6 billion during the last quarter of 2010.

During this period, the BlackBerry maker shipped 14.9 million smart phones, taking its total shipment to 52.3 million units in fiscal 2010 - a jump of 43 percent over 2009.

Analysts ascribed the gloomy outlook to the transition period at RIM which is switching to a new operating system for its phones and tablets.

However, RIM co-CEIO Jim Balsillie said that by discarding its old BlackBerry operating system in favour of the QNX software, RIM would now offer a new class of “super phone” to its clients.

The PlayBook tablet will be the first RIM device to run on the new operating system developed by QNX Software Systems.

RIM acquired this Ottawa-based software company for $200 million in April last year to have exclusive access to its software technology for its tablet.

RIM had announced to run its tablet on the powerful QNX operating system rather than the BlackBerry 6 operating system, which was unveiled along with the BlackBerry Torch 9800 in July.

“We are pleased to report record shipments and financial performance in fiscal 2011,” RIM co-CEIO Jim Balsillie said, after the fourth quarter results.

“As we enter fiscal 2012, RIM is in an excellent position to benefit from the continuing convergence of the mobile communications and mobile computing markets. We are laying a strong foundation for RIM’s expanding market opportunity through focused investments and we are extremely excited about our smartphone, tablet and platform roadmaps,” the co-CEO said.

Interestingly, the Canadian wireless giant also announced that its PlayBook tablet will also run Android applications, currently available only on tablets and smart phones that are run by Google’s Android operating system.

Since RIM is way behind Apple in offering apps, its decision to run Android applications will give PlayBook users access to 200,000 more apps.

“We feel very good about the PlayBook,” said Balsillie.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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