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(MANU FERNANDEZ/AP)
(MANU FERNANDEZ/AP)

RIM aims for 100 million customers: Lazaridis Add to ...

Research in Motion hopes more than double its 41-million users, the company's co-CEO said, indicating RIM will leverage its advantages from the corporate world in the burgeoning consumer market.

"41-million customers is what I call a good start," Mike Lazaridis told a packed house during a keynote speech at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium, RIM's most important annual conference.

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Mr. Lazaridis said the company is aiming for 100-million customers, though he did not give a specific timeline for the growth. The speech did not include any new announcements from RIM, but instead expanded on a series of launches made yesterday, including a new version of the BlackBerry Pearl and the company's smart phone operating system.





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Although RIM currently boasts five of the 10 best-selling smart phones in North America, it faces major hurdles in moving from its traditional corporate and government base to everyday consumers. Perhaps RIM's biggest disadvantage is the relatively minor applications ecosystem for BlackBerrys compared to Apple's iPhone and phones powered by Google's Android operating system.



Mr. Lazaridis sought to play down this discrepancy by arguing that it's the quality, rather than quantity of applications that matters, adding that the company believes "success will depend on who has the best apps, not most apps."

In his speech, Mr. Lazaridis focused on what he described as "super apps," which he said are applications that simultaneously take advantage of various BlackBerry functions, such as the calendar or e-mail.

RIM is basing much of its consumer strategy on BlackBerry 6, the newest iteration of its mobile operating system software. Due out next quarter, the new software is perhaps the most consumer-oriented in RIM's history, with an emphasis on design and added features such as a universal search bar.

The speech was punctuated by an appearance from pop star Will.i.am, whose band the Black Eyed Peas have a sponsorship agreement with RIM.

But Tuesday's keynote still focused heavily on RIM's core audience -- enterprise customers. Executives from major RIM partners such as HP gave presentations; an Oracle executive showed off BlackBerry software designed for the health care industry.

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