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Thursday, April 28, 2011, 04:00 pm PT (07:00 pm ET)

RIM, Motorola post dismal figures for their iPhone, iPad competitors

RIM and Motorola both published sales figures for their iPhone and iPad competitors that establish a huge gulf between demand for Apple's products and competitors'.

RIM

Canada's Research In Motion issued a warning stating that its smartphone sales would hit the low end of its projected 13.5 to 14.5 million in unit sales this quarter.

In the third calendar quarter of 2008, Apple's chief executive Steve Jobs first announced that "Apple beat RIM" in quarterly sales, noting that "RIM is a good company that makes good products. And so it is surprising that after only fifteen months on the market that we could outsell them in any quarter."

The two companies' quarters end on different months, but Apple now regularly eclipses RIM in its quarterly smartphone sales. It appears that when RIM does announce its final figures for the most recent quarter, it will be substantially below Apple's 18.65 million iPhones sold in the first three months of 2011.

According to a report by Bloomberg, RIM's warning incited analyst Matt Thorton with Avian Securities to note "the sales on their existing devices must have fallen off a cliff," and that "they are getting hit by a combination of a stale portfolio and heated competition on devices."

Michael Walkley, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said RIM's forecast indicates that its high end smartphones like the BlackBerry Torch "have not sold so well."

In the conference with analysts, Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-chief executive officer, explained that "all things being equal, we would love to have these products earlier and not be having this call. Because it’s such a big upgrade, it takes longer.”

The company said RIM's new PlayBook tablet, aimed to compete against Apple's iPad, was selling 'in line with previous estimates,' and stated that the disasters in Japan had not had a significant impact on the company's supply chain.

Motorola phones

Motorola Mobility also reported results today, with its mobile devices group stating revenues up 30 percent to $2.1 billion, but with an operating loss of $89 million.

Motorola shipped 9.3 million mobile devices, a marginal 9.4 percent increase over the year ago quarter where it sold 8.5 million, but it converted a much larger percentage of its mobile device sales from simple feature phones to smartphones.

Sales of smartphones increased by 78.3 percent, from 2.3 million to 4.1 million, jumping from 27 percent of the company's mobile phone mix to 44 percent. Smartphones are not only more expensive but also generally far more profitable to sell.

Apple's smartphone mix is 100 percent of its mobile phones, and the company shows little sign of expanding into the larger but less profitable market for so-called "feature phones." Apple sold 18.65 million iPhones in the quarter, including a new expansion with Verizon Wireless that encroached directly upon Motorola's business.

Behind iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS, Motorola's Droid X is the third most popular smartphone in the US; NPD reported earlier today that Apple's Verizon launch had caused Google's Android platform to lose ground for the first time in the US. It stated Android had lost three percentage points of share in the US since last winter while RIM had lost 5 and Apple had gained 9 points.

Motorola Xoom ships 250,000 boxes

In tablets sales Motorola reported shipments of 250,000 Xoom tablets, but like Samsung last fall, the company refused to elaborate on how many of those were actually bought by consumers.

The firm's chief financial officer Marc Rothman said only that Xoom sell through was "good," while noting that the new tablet didn't begin shipping until late February, halfway though the quarter.

A report on Motorola's earnings by Moconews said "the Xoom was widely viewed as the Android community’s best answer to the iPad when it was unveiled at CES in January, but response from consumers and reviewers once the device was out in the wild has been less than enthusiastic."

Apple shipped 4.69 million iPads in the first calendar quarter of 2011, but noted that its channel inventory had actually been depleted, indicating that sell through was about 5 million iPads.

The company's chief operations officer Tim Cook said that demand for the iPad was "staggering" and that the company is "heavily backlogged," although it plans to produce "a very large number of iPads" to meet demand over the next quarter.