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RIM's stock price jumps on news of increased subscribers

BlackBerry 10 'on track' promise by CEO also helps

September 26, 2012 03:34 PM ET

Computerworld - Research In Motion's stock price jumped more than 6% Wednesday after CEO Thorsten Heins addressed developers and said, among other things, that BlackBerry subscriptions had climbed to 80 million, up from 78 million in the second quarter.

Heins also described new BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Flow elements of the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which is on track to appear on new smartphones in the first quarter of 2013. His full 39-minute keynote, given Tuesday at BlackBerry Jam Americas 2012 in San Jose, can be seen online.

The jump in subscriptions surprised many analysts, after all the bad news from RIM over the past year. RIM's stock price had declined nearly 60% this year, and its share of the global smartphone market had fallen to 5%. Over the past five years, since the iPhone first emerged as a threat to the BlackBerry's dominance, RIM's stock price has declined about 90%.

After the Jam keynote, RIM's stock price jumped to $7.01 per share at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time, a 6.21% improvement over Tuesday's close.

The increase in subscribers was the main cause for the stock price rise, although some analysts wondered how the subscription numbers were calculated. They said the increase probably came from lower-priced BlackBerry smartphones sold in emerging markets, not in North America or Europe.

Heins gave a tiny insight about where the subscriber increase might lie, noting that the BlackBerry has done well in Southeast Asian countries, which he has visited in recent weeks.

"In Southeast Asia, smartphone adoption has gone through the roof, and BlackBerry is outpacing smartphone adoption in several of these markets," Heins said in the keynote.

Analysts said that BlackBerry Messenger, with 60 million subscribers, is popular in such countries.

What might matter most in the U.S. and Canada is how well the BlackBerry 10 platform will work for large enterprises, some of which were burned by the service outage in October 2011 that hit several continents and lasted several days.

Heins said enterprise IT shops are testing the new BlackBerry 10 Enterprise Service, which allows them to see on a single console all BlackBerry users and employees using other smartphones to access corporate networks and apps.

That kind of mobile management allows a company to let employees use their own smartphones in a secure environment while giving the workers "all the flexibility they want," Heins said.

Heins also showed developers how BlackBerry 10 provides new interface capabilities, such as Hub and Flow, and offers further enterprise protections with BlackBerry Balance.

With Hub, a user can decide which elements to put in a single group on the phone's display. The components could include email, BlackBerry Messenger messages or updates from Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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