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BlackBerry firm quits consumer race

Struggling BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has said it will cede most consumer markets after failing to compete with flashier touch-screen handsets such as Apple's iPhone and models that run Google's Android software.

Instead, RIM said it will return to its roots and focus on business customers, many of whom prefer the BlackBerry for its security.

RIM has had limited success trying to enter consumer markets in recent years, with chief executive Thorsten Heins saying a turnaround required "substantial change".

"We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalise on our leading position in this segment," Mr Heins said. "We believe that BlackBerry cannot succeed if we tried to be everybody's darling and all things to all people. Therefore, we plan to build on our strength."

During a management shake-up, RIM said former co-CEO Jim Balsillie has resigned from its board. David Yach, chief technology officer for software, and Jim Rowan, chief operating officer for global operations, are also leaving.

The Canadian company has long dominated the corporate smartphone market and has sought to expand its appeal to consumers, but it has had trouble because the phones are not perceived to be as appealing as its chief competitors.

The BlackBerry is known for its security and reliability as an email device, but it has not kept pace with iPhones or Android phones when it comes to running third-party applications. For that reason, the device is even losing ground in the business world, as employees demand iPhones or Android devices over the BlackBerry.

Apple sold 37 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011 - more than the number RIM shipped in the past three quarters combined. RIM shipped 11.1 million BlackBerry phones in the latest quarter, which ended on March 3.

RIM said it is exploring partnerships and other opportunities for its existing consumer business to focus on corporate customers.

The firm had announced quarterly results that fell short of Wall Street expectations. Net loss was 125 million dollars (£78.5 million), or 24 cents a share, in the quarter that ended March 3. This compares with 934 million dollars (£586.2 million), or 1.78 dollars per share, a year ago. Revenue fell by 25% to 4.2 billion dollars (£2.63 billion) from 5.6 billion dollars (£3.5 billion). Analysts were expecting 4.54 billion dollars (£2.84 billion).


From Belfast Telegraph