Research In Motion Ltd said on Tuesday its BlackBerry subscriber base has risen to 80 million from the 78 million it reported earlier this year, surprising many on Wall Street and sending its shares more than 3 percent higher in midday trading.
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Most analysts had expected RIM to begin losing subscribers in the recently completed quarter as it has rapidly lost market share, especially in North America, to Apple's snazzier iPhone and Samsung's Galaxy phones.
Despite ceding ground in the crucial North American market, however, RIM has been able to increase its subscriber base for its lower-end devices in emerging markets, where users are more price conscious and where RIM's much-admired BlackBerry messaging platform gives it a big edge.
But growth from last quarter's base of roughly 78 million subscribers may come at a price, with gains skewed toward lower-end devices. That will hurt the closely watched average selling price.
RIM is expected to announce results on Thursday for the quarter ended Sept 1.
The company's Toronto-listed shares rose 3.4 percent to C$6.39 in midday trading, its Nasdaq listed shares rose by a similar level to $6.52.
RIM Chief Executive Thorsten Heins told a gathering of developers in San Jose, California, on Tuesday that the company is also getting positive feedback on its new BlackBerry 10 devices from the carriers that have had previews of the new smartphones.
"We are making believers out of our partners. We are making believers out of those who had previously written BlackBerry off," Heins said.
The BB10 devices, set to be launched in early 2013, will run on a new operating system that RIM says will offer a faster and smoother user interface, and a better platform for apps that are critical to a smartphone's success.
"BlackBerry 10 is our most important launch ever. And it is the most exciting launch I have ever led in my career," Heins said.
($1=$0.98 Canadian) (Reporting by Poornima Gupta in San Jose, Euan Rocha and Alastair Sharp in Toronto; Editing by Janet Guttsman; and Peter Galloway)