RIM adds 2M new BlackBerry subscribers

BlackBerry maker hopes to become the world's No. 3 smartphone ecosystem vendor
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Click here for a video from RIM showing off BlackBerry 10.

Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) shares were up today after the company announced it added 2 million more subscribers to its BlackBerry service, countering expectations that the company would report an overall decline in its customer base.

During the company's Blackberry Jam Americas developer conference in San Jose, Calif., RIM disclosed that it now has 80 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide, up from its previous count of 78 million. The figure represents a bright spot for the troubled BlackBerry maker, which has seen its global smartphone market share tumble from 11.7 percent a year ago to 5.2 percent in the second quarter, according to Gartner. Most analysts believe RIM's gains have occurred mainly in emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere, while its business in North America and Europe has fallen.

RIM's stock was up around 1 percent in trading today to around $6.60 per share. The company is scheduled to report quarterly earnings Thursday.

During its developer conference, RIM offered additional information on its BlackBerry 10 operating system, which it plans to release in the first quarter of next year. The company showed off the platform's user interface, BlackBerry Flow, which allows users to scroll seamlessly between apps. BlackBerry Peek allows users to glance at another application without leaving the one a user is currently running. And BlackBerry Hub combines users' various inboxes, messages and notifications.

RIM also sought to counter concerns that BlackBerry doesn't offer an ecosystem that can compete with those from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) or Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). The company said that Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and foursquare would offer native BlackBerry 10 applications when the platform launches, and that RIM is planning to sell movies, music and TV shows through its App World storefront starting next month. (See related story here.)

Further, RIM's marketing chief Frank Boulben told Bloomberg that the company has so far handed out 6,000 prototype BB10 phones to developers to encourage them to support the platform.

Boulben also gave some hints about how RIM will roll out BB10. He said the company will conduct a "progressive reveal" of the platform to business executives and technology press before a splashy launch event early next year. RIM plans to offer a handful of BB10 models with both touchscreens and Qwerty keyboards, and Boulben said RIM expects to be selling BB10 phones in roughly two dozen markets by the end of the first quarter. He said some carriers will begin testing the phones next month, though he didn't provide specifics.

Despite continued concerns that RIM's new products won't be able to make a dent in a market dominated by Apple and Google, or compete with the likes of Microsoft's Windows Phone 8, RIM executives continued to maintain a positive outlook.

"I think we have a clear shot at being the No. 3 mobile ecosystem in the world," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said, according to AllThingsD. "We're working hard. We're not sleeping much."

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
- see this CNET article

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