Ina Fried

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Shocker: RIM Continues Upbeat Tone Despite Earnings Freefall

Research In Motion reported that earnings once again have dipped below prior years and quarters as well as below earlier estimates. As has become its pattern, though, the company sounded an upbeat note.

“Despite the challenges faced in the third quarter, the BlackBerry subscriber base grew to almost 75 million customers around the world,” company co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis said in a statement. “RIM continues to have strong technology, unique service capabilities and a large installed base of customers, and we are more determined than ever to capitalize on our strengths to overcome the recent execution challenges surrounding product launches and the resulting financial performance.”

The happy talk continued as the company looked ahead.

“It may take some time to realize the benefits of these efforts and the platform transition that we are undertaking, but we continue to believe that RIM has the right set of strengths and capabilities to maintain a leading role in the mobile communications industry,” the co-CEOs said.

The numbers, meanwhile, were hardly as happy. The company’s net income was $265 million, or $0.51 per share, compared with earnings of $329 million, or $0.63 per share in the prior quarter and net income of $911 million, or $1.74 per share in the same quarter a year ago.

Revenue did pick up some from the prior quarter, but this is the holiday quarter and sales were still down from a year ago. The company took in $5.2 billion in revenue, up 24 percent from $4.2 billion in the previous quarter, but down 6 percent from $5.5 billion in revenue during the same quarter of last year.

RIM said nearly four-fifths of that revenue came from hardware, with nearly one-fifth coming from services and just a tiny fraction from software sales. RIM shipped roughly 14.1 million BlackBerry smartphones and 150,000 PlayBook tablets.

For the current quarter, the company predicted another drop in revenue and BlackBerry shipments, though in fairness some of that is likely seasonal. The company said sales for the quarter ending March 3 should be between $4.6 million and $4.9 million with per-share earnings in the range of 80 cents to 95 cents. The company expects to ship between 11 million and 12 million BlackBerry devices.

AllThingsD will have live coverage of the company’s earnings call, which starts at 2 pm PT. It should be entertaining.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus