BlackBerry Maker Investing to Sustain Growth

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Research In Motion Ltd. is investing to sustain the growth that has more than doubled the subscriber base for its BlackBerry wireless e-mail service in the past year, its co-chief executives said on Monday. The two CEOs told investors at its annual general meeting in Waterloo, Ontario, that subscriber growth was fueled by new versions of its flagship thumb-operated device and the constant addition of wireless phone carriers offering its service.

“(It’s) all contributing to this growth, and we’re committed to sustaining that growth going forward,” Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said. “We see our opportunities really just beginning.”


RIM reported last month that it added 592,000 subscribers in the first quarter to reach about 3.11 million, and forecast between 620,000 and 650,000 additions in the current quarter.

Even so, its stock stumbled as the numbers failed to match the lofty expectations of some investors.

Concerns about emerging competitors such as Good Technology, Seven Networks and Visto have also weighed on RIM’s shares.

Asked about potential competition from Microsoft Corp.’s (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Windows Mobile 5.0 platform, RIM co-chief executive and founder Mike Lazaridis noted RIM’s e-mail service is available over Microsoft supported devices through its BlackBerry Connect program.

“This is a very big market … wireless e-mail is becoming a strategic investment for IT (information technology) managers and I think what we’re finding is that this is something that we continue to lead in, we continue to innovate in,” he said.

“As the market grows there are more and more companies that would like to provide products or services for that market.”

RIM executives said little about the company’s legal battle with patent holding company NTP Inc., which resurfaced last month after their $450 million settlement broke down.

Asked whether there would be additional payments to NTP, company officials said the matter was before the courts and “the hope is certainly that that’s all we have to pay”.

NTP, a closely held U.S.-based firm, successfully sued RIM in 2002 for patent infringement and later won an injunction, stayed pending appeal, to halt U.S. sales of RIM’s wireless e-mail device.