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BlackBerry maker denies consumer market withdrawal

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Blackberry BBM logo
Research In Motion (RIM) has said that media reports suggesting the BlackBerry brand is to retrench from the consumer smartphone market are "wholly misleading".

After issuing a disappointing set of financial results for the first quarter of 2012, RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins said that the firm would "refocus" efforts on the enterprise market, its traditional area of strength.

This led many commentators to assume that the firm would withdraw BlackBerry from the consumer market, where it has lost ground over the years to rival smartphones including Apple's iPhone and devices running Google Android.

However, RIM's managing director of global sales and regional marketing Patrick Spence said that claims the company intends to leave the consumer market are "wholly misleading".

"Whilst we announced plhttps://rams.digitalspy.co.uk/m.php?ans to re-focus our efforts on our core strengths, and on our enterprise customer base, we were very explicit that we will continue to build on our strengths to go after targeted consumer segments," he said in a media statement.

"We listed BBM, as well as the security and manageability of our platform, amongst our strengths."

Shipments of BlackBerry smartphones slumped to 11.1m over the three months to March 3, down 21% from the same period in 2011. The PlayBook tablet shipped close to 500,000 units, but that was mostly down to a massive price cut for the struggling product.

However, BlackBerry remains hugely popular among younger smartphone buyers, largely down to the free BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service and the fact that entry-level handsets are much cheaper than Apple's iPhone.

> BlackBerry 'best-selling' smartphone in UK in 2011

In a conference call after the results, Heins said that while he would refocus the company on the enterprise business, RIM remains committed to creating a "compelling consumer offering".

He confirmed that new BlackBerry 7 devices are scheduled to launch in the next few months, and it is hoped these products will "reinvigorate" RIM's position in the "key entry level smartphone segment", as well as persuade feature phone customers to upgrade.

RIM also has big hopes for the delayed launch of BlackBerry 10 at the end of this year, as the operating platform will power the next-generation of BlackBerry consumer and business smartphones.

Heins further confirmed that BlackBerry will "seek partnerships to deliver those consumer features and content that are not central to the BlackBerry value proposition, for example media consumption applications".

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