RIM promising to push envelope

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) vowed to keep innovating its products in the heavily competitive smartphone space and will push its iconic technology into areas such as health care, government and e-commerce.

Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie the Co-Chief Executive Officers for Research In Motion (RIM) pose with their Blackberry devices before the RIM annual general meeting on Tuesday

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) vowed to keep innovating its products in the heavily competitive smartphone space and will push its iconic technology into areas such as health care, government and e-commerce.

The company, known as RIM, told shareholders Tuesday that while applications such as music, games and screensavers are important, its plans are to leverage the technology into more “substantive” areas.

“We are looking at other categories of apps that leverage who we are,” co-CEO Jim Balsillie said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Tuesday.

For instance, Balsillie said he has been in discussions with health care and insurance companies about special uses for the BlackBerry.

“There are a whole lot of elements in play … It’s a big equation,” Balsillie said.

“We really play by our own rules. Our own sense of the world and our markets.”

RIM recently launched a new online application store for BlackBerry users for upgrades and purchases, but it has been criticized by some as not being user friendly.

While the RIM store is gaining customers daily, it still trails Apple’s apps store for number of users.

Balsillie told shareholders he wasn’t concerned.

“It’s going just fine, but it’s a work in progress as much of what we are doing is,” he said in response to a question.

The gathering in Waterloo, Ont., which was also webcast, was attended by young and old.

A young boy stepped up to the microphone and asked when the company might launch a special BlackBerry for kids, so that his mother would allow him to get one.

“Both of my kids have one,” said president and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis, causing the crowd to erupt in laughter.

Another shareholder asked if it bothers the company that BlackBerries get a bad rap for distracting people during events, such as company meetings.

“A lot of people blame BlackBerries for ruining meetings. I like to think that BlackBerries have liberated people from boring meetings,” Balsillie said.

The shareholder gathering came as RIM’s stock price faces pressure from competitors including Apple’s new iPhone and Palm’s new Pre smartphone.

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