RIM and Vodafone Strike Deal to Target Retail Market

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International wireless giant Vodafone and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion  announced a partnership as RIM seeks to broaden the BlackBerry's reach.

TORONTO (Reuters) - International wireless giant Vodafone Group Plc and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd announced a partnership on Monday as RIM seeks to broaden the BlackBerry's reach.

Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile phone company by revenue, said it will add the BlackBerry system to its lineup as one of its "preferred consumer operating platforms."

The deal builds on RIM's strategy of targeting the broader retail consumer market and moving away from its traditional dependence on corporations and big government departments.

"This deepening of the strategic relationship between the two companies will see Vodafone and RIM concentrating on driving continued growth in business segments, and specifically, focusing on growing broader adoption in the consumer segment," the two said in a statement.

In the past, the BlackBerry smartphone was ubiquitous among executives, lawyers, politicians and other professionals, but it had failed to gain a similar hold among nonbusiness users.

By offering multimedia-heavy handsets such as the BlackBerry Pearl, RIM has been changing that. More than a third of the Waterloo, Ontario-based company's subscribers are now classified as noncorporate or nongovernment. It had a total of 12 million users at the end of the quarter ended December 1.

RIM shares were up $3.11, or 3.5 percent, at $93 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday morning.

(Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; Editing by Peter Galloway)

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This article was originally published on 2008-02-11
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