BlackBerry Ships 1M Z10s

BlackBerry's Q4 earnings show the company eked out a slim profit as it shipped one million Z10 smartphones.
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
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BlackBerry reported its fourth quarter and full-year financial results for fiscal 2013, and the news was better than expected. The company generated $2.7 billion in revenue during its fourth quarter, which was down only slightly from the previous period, and managed to make a profit of $94 million.

The company lost subscribers overall for the second quarter in a row. It shed about 3 million users, and now claims to have about 76 million BlackBerry customers still on board. During its call with reporters Thursday morning, BlackBerry said the bulk of its customer losses could be attributed to prepaid subscribers switching away from BlackBerry. The company said its enterprise customer base has changed very little.

Total device shipments for the period totaled just 6 million, and BlackBerry said the new Z10 accounted for 1 million device shipments since its February 1 debut. BlackBerry didn't say how many Z10's were actually sold to end users (it no longer reports that data).

Earlier this month, BlackBerry announced that one of its customers, later fingered to be BrightPoint, ordered 1 million Z10s. It is not clear if that single order accounts for the entire 1 million Z10s shipped during the most recent quarter or not. BrightPoint buys and provisions cell phones and then ships/sells them to wireless network operators and other customers.

[ Is BlackBerry's focus on balancing work and personal compelling to you? Read Blackberry Balance -- The Real Reason To Buy It. ]

BlackBerry also sold about 370,000 PlayBook tablets.

According to BlackBerry, 61% of the revenue it generated during the quarter was from handset sales, with the remaining 36% coming from service fees, and 3% from software and other services. The company's cash reserves remained fairly steady at about $2.9 billion thanks to aggressive cost-cutting measures taken during the last 12 months.

"We have implemented numerous changes at BlackBerry over the past year and those changes have resulted in the company returning to profitability in the fourth quarter," said Thorsten Heins, president and CEO. "With the launch of BlackBerry 10, we have introduced the newest and what we believe to be the most innovative mobile computing platform in the market today. Customers love the device and the user experience, and our teams and partners are now focused on getting those devices into the hands of BlackBerry consumer and enterprise customers."

Moving into the first quarter of its 2014 fiscal year, BlackBerry said it expects to ramp up marketing spend along with the ongoing global launches of the Z10 and other BlackBerry 10 handsets. The company said that despite this increase in marketing dollars, it should break even for the first quarter thanks to its streamlined supply chain.

Of note, BlackBerry co-founder and former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis today announced he will fully divorce himself from BlackBerry by May 1. Though he stepped down from his co-CEO role in January 2012, he remained a member of the company's board of directors. He will vacate his seat on the board at the end of April.

"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."

The BlackBerry Z10 is available from AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless in the U.S. The Q10, which has a QWERTY keyboard, will be released later this year by AT&T, Sprint and Verizon.

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