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BlackBerry subscribers drop for the first time amid cash woes

The number of people using the once-popular mobiles has fallen by 1 million.

The number of BlackBerry subscribers has fallen for the first time in history, suggesting that the once-popular platform may now be on the wane.

Subscriber numbers fell from 80 million to 79 million in the three months leading up to 1 December, the BBC reports. That's not a major drop, but it's significant nonetheless, as until now BlackBerry-maker RIM had been able to keep subscriber numbers climbing a little each year.

It's reckoned to have kept numbers up despite financial woes by flogging its cheap-but-useful smart phones abroad, but either those countries that once snapped up BlackBerry phones are now bored, or the drop in subscribers in the US and Canada is now so significant that it's dragging numbers down worldwide.

A theory posited by RIM is that shoppers are holding off on buying BlackBerry phones because RIM is mere weeks away from releasing BlackBerry 10, its upcoming operating system that will arrive alongside brand-new smart phones like the extensively leaked BlackBerry London.

I'd wager that's not the cause however, as BlackBerry mobiles are more popular with young folk and customers who perhaps wouldn't be as likely as, say, Apple fans to keep on top of upcoming tech trends.

The subscriber drop comes amid worrying financial news for RIM. The manufacturer mustered a profit of $9m (roughly £5.5m) in its third financial quarter, compared with $265m (about £163m) in the same period last year. Revenue for the quarter fell by 47 per cent compared with 2011.

It's no secret that Android and Apple have nicked RIM's smart phone crown, but will the ailing firm be able to rescue the situation with BlackBerry 10 when it launches on 30 January? We've got a grim suspicion the answer is no, but stick your thoughts in the comments or on our Facebook wall.