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RIM wrestles to keep BlackBerry 'alive'

June 26, 2012 - London

Mobile manufacturer giant Research in Motion (RIM), the company that launched the innovative and award-winning BlackBerry product line, is battling to ward off competition from the growing touch-screen 'Android-ruled' mobile market.

The spotlight comes on BlackBerry Messenger, the instant messaging service that allows BlackBerry users to text each other for free, with reports that RIM is considering focusing all its firepower on its messaging and email networks, and spinning off its handset division.

"BlackBerry Messenger was what kept RIM alive if I'm honest. In emerging markets and in the UK, it was the reason why certain segments of the population, particularly the youth, bought BlackBerry handsets," The Telegraph quoted Roberta Cozza, Research Director at Gartner, as saying.

However, the potential split, which would turn the mobile manufacturer into a software company, has been called a "silly fantasy" by insiders.

RIM, whose devices accounted for one in every five mobile handsets sold in the first quarter of 2009, has struggled to keep step with increasing competition from Apple's iPhone and a panoply of devices based on Google's Android mobile operating system, the paper said.

Analysts claim that RIM is "essentially broken" and the only way it will remain "a viable entity" is "at a fraction of its current size", as its share of the market sank to 7pc in the first three months of this year and will be closer to 3pc by 2016.

With what is being hailed as RIM's last resort, BlackBerry's former chief operating officer Thorsten Heins called in RBC Capital Markets and JP Morgan to help draw up plans to revive the company, that now leaved with options of either splitting the business in two, listing RIM's handset division as a separate entity, or flogging it altogether, with Facebook or Amazon being tipped as potential buyers.

BlackBerry handsets might be prized for their security and their easy-to-use qwerty keyboard, but it has lost momentum as users defected to rivals that are sleeker and arguably quicker for browsing the web, the paper said.

The firm will break with tradition when it launches its first touch-screen, the BlackBerry 10, later this year, but many analysts fear the device will be making its foray into the cellphone business a little too late.


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