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 In its third-place battle with Microsoft for smartphones, the comeback BlackBerry kid continues to make gentle headway, having shipped nearly seven million smartphones, but can't maintain a profit as it gives a gloomy outlook to investors.

There Be Market Monsters Out There

BlackBerry seems to be doing everything it can to obscure the sales figures for its Z10 and Q10 devices, with only shipping figures across all smartphones in its latest earnings release. That doesn't reek of confidence as losses return (an $84 million loss on increased revenue of $3.1 billion), and if a company has to state, "The smartphone market remains highly competitive, making it difficult to estimate units, revenue and levels of profitability," then it is fair to say optimism isn't high. 

On the plus side, the company will be selling its new smartphones into over 100 carriers in the coming quarter and is now looking to drive revenue from BlackBerry Enterprise Services, hot on the heels of announcing BES 10 compatible apps for iOS and Android,  BlackBerry Messenger has been promised for other devices too, by the end of the summer. 

UPDATE: During the earnings call, BlackBerry came clean and said that 2.7 million BB10 devices were shipped during the quarter. CEO Torsten Heins also said that it won't update the PlayBook tablet (which still sold another 100,000 units) to BB10, due to peformance issues. That will cause some anger and confusion among users, although it may clear the path for a new tablet in the future. BBRY's stock price was down almost 25% before the market opened, approaching a 30% fall as trading started. 

Investment is Key for 2014

The company is placing its immediate hopes on the Q5 smartphone, as the company announced another loss in subscribers. As such, there will be at least one more BB7-based product to cater for the die-hards, but the focus will now be on getting legacy subscribers onto the new devices. 

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Heins said that they expect a further loss in the second quarter as they continue to invest in the business. To that end, the company now has $3.1 billion in cash and equivalents, up $200 million on the previous quarter, which which to invest.

So, in its battle with Microsoft and the Windows Phone partners, BlackBerry is hardly blazing a trail, and if Windows Phones should easily trounce it in the next market share numbers, with BB likely to be permanently relegated out of the top three. You'll note, an entire article without a single reference to the top two!