Defiant Blackberry boss dismisses Nokia jibe

By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter

  • Published

Research In Motion's boss has dismissed suggestions that its Blackberry devices are no longer a major player in the smartphone race.

Jim Balsillie told BBC News that the firm should not be written off.

It follows comments by Nokia's Stephen Elop, who said that the smartphone ecosystem was now a three horse race between Windows, Android and Apple.

"I don't know how you can say that we are not in the race," said Mr Balsillie at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

He said that Blackberry had experienced 70% growth last year and was the number one phone in the UK.

Figures from research firm Gfk show that the phone maker had 28.2% of the UK smartphone market in 2010.

However, the firm trails Google, Nokia and Apple in terms of market share, according to figures from Canalys.

"Are people writing us off? We have had huge growth in the last year. I wouldn't write us off," he said.

He was also keen to shake off RIM's business focussed image.

"80% of our subscribers are consumers."

Blackberry is forging a new link with younger, teenage consumers who are flocking to the handset because of Blackberry messaging.

Analysts have characterised 2011 as a year of transition for Blackberry as it moves away from its traditional business roots.

But for Mr Balsillie the greatest change is the move into larger devices.

"The biggest transition for us is that we are coming out with tablets," he said.

The firm announced its Playbook tablet device in September 2010.

In Barcelona, the firm also said that would be launching a 4G Playbook in the second half of the year. None of its tablets have yet hit shop shelves, but are expected in the coming weeks.

It has been a difficult year for RIM in countries such as Saudi Arabia and India, where governments want to gain greater access to the tight security system used for Blackberry's business users.

Mr Balsillie said the company's policy had not changed, despite significant growth amongst Indian consumers.

"We want to abide by local laws while also supporting our systems," he said.

RIM has always maintained that it cannot interfere with the encryption system set up to protect its business customers' messages.

It remained in talks with the government in India, said a spokesman.

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