The past week saw quite a few developments in the mobile sector. Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) held its annual three-day BlackBerry World Conference early this week, where it gave developers the first glimpse of how its new BlackBerry 10 OS would look like when released later this year. Motorola Mobility (NASDAQ:MMI) announced a mixed bag of Q1 2012 results May 1st, as revenues grew marginally to $3.1 billion but operating losses almost doubled to $70 million. Further into the week, Nokia (NYSE:NOK) slapped lawsuits on rivals HTC and RIM on multiple counts of patent infringement at several courts in the U.S. and Germany.
Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) kicked off its annual three-day BlackBerry World conference with the launch of a prototype of the BlackBerry 10 OS on Tuesday, giving developers the first glimpse of what is touted to be the company’s best chance to stage a turnaround. While RIM doesn’t plan to unveil the actual BB10 smartphones until the later half of 2012, it took the opportunity to showcase reference devices running on an yet unfinished Dev Alpha version of the OS that, not very surprisingly, lacked a physical keyboard. The company has also been handing out these prototypes as well as a dev toolkit to developers in order to generate a favorable buzz and create an app ecosystem that may not appear too handicapped when the actual smartphones are launched.
Shares of RIM fell more than 5% in trading Wednesday, as investors were looking for more than just a developer version of the OS with mostly similar features to what can be found in existing smartphones. However, considering that the company was only demoing the developer version of the OS, many new features may have been kept under covers for later. From whatever little that RIM showed us, we could tell that the company is indeed focusing on meaningfully differentiating from rivals by merging existing strengths with a new improved UI. (see RIM Offers Sneak Peek Of New Improved BlackBerry 10 OS; Developer Support Essential)
Motorola Mobility (NASDAQ:MMI) announced its Q1 FY 2012 earnings on May 1, and the results were a mixed bag. While revenues for the quarter grew marginally over the year-ago quarter to about $3.1 billion, the company couldn’t keep its expenses in check as operating losses almost doubled to $70 million. A seasonal slowdown in mobile device sales following the end of the holiday quarter saw mobile shipments drop to 8.9 million, a decline of 15% versus the previous quarter and 4% year-on-year. However, smartphone sales continued to be strong, growing 25% y-o-y to 5.1 million despite heightened competition from Apple iPhone and Google’s Android smartphones. (see Motorola’s Q1 Results Show Market Share Losses Despite Rising Smartphone Demand)
As for the company’s pending acquisition by Google, Motorola said that it expects the acquisition to be completed by the mid-year despite being held up by regulatory delays due to a pending review by Chinese anti-trust officials. This should give some respite to concerned investors who were apprehensive of China’s intentions given Google’s rather unsavory previous run-ins with the country. (see Why Investor Concerns on the Googlorola Deal Falling Apart Are Premature to learn why we think these concerns are unwarranted right now)
After Apple and Samsung, it was Nokia’s turn to engage in patent wars. The Finnish handset maker sued rivals HTC and RIM Wednesday on multiple counts of patent infringement at several courts in the U.S. and Germany. Nokia has alleged that the two companies, along with visual technology company Viewsonic Corp, have infringed on around 45 patents in all.  With its mobile phone sales flagging, as Apple and Samsung run away with the smartphone market, Nokia is relying on its patents to draw in some licensing revenues and mitigate the impact of what is likely to be long and painful Windows Phone transition process. Although any financial settlement from the lawsuits filed could be, at best, months away, Nokia is willing to take any victory that falls its way in this uphill battle that it faces in the smartphone market.Notes:
- Nokia Files Patent Suits Against HTC, RIM, ViewSonic, WSJ, May 2nd, 2012 [↩]