BlackBerry plans worldwide expansion

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is charging ahead with international expansion plans and investments in new handsets and software.

BlackBerry plans worldwide expansion

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

“We’re not short of opportunity,” Jim Balsillie told shareholders at RIM’s annual general meeting. “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 growth, particularly as the US 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%.

RIM also seen more competition from Apple’s 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.

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

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