BlackBerry revenue plunges 64 percent, suffers loss

The company only sold 1.1 million smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 OS

BlackBerry continued to struggle during the company's fiscal fourth quarter, experiencing a huge drop in revenue and a $423 million net loss.

Revenue for the fourth quarter of BlackBerry's fiscal 2014, which ended March 1, was approximately US$976 million, down 64 percent from $2.7 billion in the same quarter in 2013.

The company's $423 million net loss for the period compares to a $98 million profit for the year-earlier period. The loss, however, was smaller than analysts expected, and BlackBerry's shares were trading higher at the beginning of the trading day.

BlackBerry had $2.7 billion in cash, cash equivalents, and short- and long-term investments at the end of its fourth quarter, compared to $3.2 billion at the end of the previous three month period, it said.

BlackBerry's main problem continues to be that it doesn't sell enough phones. The company sold approximately 3.4 million BlackBerry smartphones to end users last quarter, including about 1.1 million phones running the BlackBerry 10 OS. A year earlier, the company said it sold 6 million smartphones.

While launching products that run BlackBerry 10, the company will continue to manufacture BlackBerry 7 OS devices and support the OS as long as there is demand, it said.

"We are starting a new production run with Wistron on a BB OS device for worldwide distribution, and I think most of you know it's the Bold," CEO John Chen said during a conference call regarding the results. Wistron is a company that designs and manufactures products such as phones and laptops.

BlackBerry's revenue breakdown for the quarter was approximately 37 percent for hardware, 56 percent for services and 7 percent for software and other revenue.

Chen said he is pleased with the progress the company made during the quarter against the strategy laid out three months ago. BlackBerry has reached a cost reduction target one quarter ahead of schedule, Chen said in a statement issued before the conference call.

During the conference call, Chen -- who took over as BlackBerry's CEO in November -- also repeated a turn-around plan he presented at Mobile World Congress last month. The company's fortunes will to a large extent depend on the success of the upcoming low-cost Z3 smartphone, the Classic QWERTY smartphone as well as management platform BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) 12 and the eBBM Suite. BBM Protected, the first product in the suite, will offer enterprise messaging with end-to-end encryption.

There are a lot of things to do, but BlackBerry has a "strong long-term strategic plan in place" to help with growth and profitability, Chen said.

The company's financial goals are to reach cash-flow break even at the end of the current fiscal year, and to reach profitability in fiscal 2016. Until that time the company's results will fluctuate, according to Chen.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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