The past couple of years have not been particularly kind to RIM, the Canada-based maker of the BlackBerry smartphone line. The PlayBook tablet flopped; global sales shrank; workers were laid off; and Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, formerly the RIM co-CEOs, were pushed out in favor of COO Thorsten Heins. Cue the takeover rumors and the snarky obituaries for a company that once sat at the top of the smartphone game.
But according to Reuters, those obits may have been a little premature. RIM tells Reuters today that its subscriber base has actually climbed as of late – from 78 million at the beginning of 2012 to 80 million now. Reuters reports that many of the new RIM subscribers are in emerging markets, such as India, "where consumers are much more price conscious and where RIM's much-admired BlackBerry messaging platform gives it a big edge."
The subscriber numbers helped nudge RIM stock up three percent in trading today. So is RIM in the midst of a resurgence?
Well, the company would certainly like you to think so. Speaking at an event in San Jose, Calif., Heins pointed to the forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, which is expected to launch on a range of RIM devices early next year. "We recognize the need for change," Heins said at the event. "There is a new energy and a lot of fighting spirit at RIM."
We're somewhat less than fully convinced. Although RIM may still find a market among business users, the company has fallen well behind Apple and Google in both the inventiveness of its devices and the quality of its operating systems. Even if RIM knocks it out of the park with BlackBerry 10 – which won't even launch until long after the holiday shopping season has concluded – it will have a tough time catching up.
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