Research In Motion posted earnings after the market closed today, and the results are decidedly mixed. It saw an unexpected profit of $14 million thanks to a tax settlement, down drastically from the year-prior of $265 million. And while its $2.72 billion in revenue was roughly half last year’s third-quarter sales, the overall financial picture beat market expectations.
And RIM saw its subscriber base shrink for the first time, losing 1 million users during the quarter, shipping 6.9 million BlackBerry phones and — amazingly — 355,000 PlayBook tablets to end the period with 79 million overall subs.
RIM’s revenues were down 5 percent from the previous quarter, and the next few months will be much more brutal. It will continue to lose customers during an extremely competitive holiday season, and help won’t arrive in the form of BlackBerry 10 for six more weeks. But the relatively modest subscriber losses recently may indicate RIM users are stubbornly holding out until those new devices come to market. If that’s the case — and if RIM can execute with great distribution and ample supplies — BlackBerry 10 may actually get a jump out of the gate. That optimism is why shares shot up 9 percent in after-hours trading.