RIM Plans Growth Abroad

RIM is planning a global expansion and new handsets and software in an effort to stay competitive. RIM wants to grow Blackberry service to Russia, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd (RIM.TO: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz)(RIMM.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is charging ahead with international expansion plans and investments in new handsets and software to stay competitive, its co-chief executive said.

RIM wants to expand 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 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 Inc's (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) 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, 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.

(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Braden Reddall)