RIM Charges Ahead With Growth Abroad

RIM BlackBerry

Source: Reuters

TORONTO — BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) is charging ahead with international expansion plans and investments in new handsets and software to stay competitive, its co-chief executive Jim Balsillie said.

RIM wants to expand BlackBerry service, now available in more than 140 countries, in Russia, Latin America, China and Southeast Asia.

“We’re not short of opportunity,” Balsillie told shareholders at RIM’s annual meeting on Tuesday. “We’re in a prime, prime position that I think we’ve navigated ourselves to and earned.”

After 12 years of rampant expansion, some analysts and investors have grown concerned that RIM will not be able to sustain it, particularly as the U.S. economic picture darkens.

Those fears were highlighted last month when RIM posted a profit outlook that fell short of analyst expectations, even as it reported quarterly earnings that more than doubled.

The results marked a departure from the company’s recent quarters, when it comfortably beat analysts’ forecasts. Since the earnings report, its shares are down roughly 25 percent.

RIM also seen more competition from Apple’s (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone, but has repeatedly dismissed the iPhone as a threat.

The company’s growth strategy will also focus on introducing new phones and applications, and an increase in research and development spending, Balsillie said at the meeting, which was Webcast from Waterloo, Ontario, where RIM is based.

RIM has peppered its smartphones, already popular with executives, with video cameras and music players to lure more retail customers, and now about 40 percent of its 16 million users are either small and medium businesses or consumers.

RIM closed at $105.85, down $1.99, on NASDAQ on Tuesday. On the Toronto Stock Exchange, it fell C$2.51 to end at C$106.21.

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