RIM boosted by unexpected hike in EMEA subscribers

Research In Motion surprised industry pundits with a report that it added over a million more subscribers in the European, Middle East and Africa region in less than three weeks.

RIM BlackBerry Bold 9900 9300

RIM said it added 1 million EMEA BlackBerry subscribers in less than three weeks.

This announcement from the company, via Twittiter, is unusual given that RIM stopped issuing BlackBerry subscriber operational metrics late last year. The company has been struggling to compete with Apple's iPhone and a growing array of Android-based smartphones and this report might indicate a turnaround in its fortunes.

Subscriber numbers are critically important to RIM's financial performance given that it charges operators a monthly fee per BlackBerry user. In turn, RIM provides subscribers with access to its own infrastructure, which compacts and encrypts data before sending it to RIM devices.

This business model has enabled RIM to have the second highest industry margins behind only Apple, but equally makes the company vulnerable when subscribers drift away to another handset vendor. RIM has lost share over the last several quarters in North America.

While RIM said it attracted over 5 million new subscribers worldwide in the three months to last November--the last time it reported user numbers--investors seem wary of the company's fortunes with the shares losing half their value since the start of the year.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Mobile Computing News article

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