Facing fierce competition from Apple's iPhone, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) on Tuesday announced it would more than double its customer base. Currently, BlackBerry has 41 million users globally - almost 3 per cent of the world's mobile phone market.
Calling its base of 41 million customers "a good start," RIM president and co-chief executive officer Mike Lazaridis said that 100 million users is the next target for his company.
Delivering the keynote address at the annual RIM-organised Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando, Florida, he said the wireless giant plans to penetrate the mass market with new application-laced smart phones.
To target the mass market, RIM is soon coming out with BlackBerry 6, its new consumer-oriented mobile operating system software. In addition to a universal search bar, the new software will be richer in graphics and animation.
The unveiling of RIM's plans to penetrate the mass consumer market comes a month after Forbes reported in March that Apple's iPhone is set to overtake BlackBerry in the global mobile market. Currently, the iPhone has about 2 per cent share of the market, compared with BlackBerry's 3 per cent.
"Apple's ecosystem of consumer products (Macs, iPad, Apple TV) and services (iTunes, iPhones apps) make the iPhone a more attractive phone for many consumers compared to the BlackBerry ... iPhone is making inroads with business customers that have traditionally preferred the BlackBerry," Forbes had said last month.
But, in its bid to lure the consumer market, BlackBerry faces prospects of becoming less popular with its core corporate clients who made it a global brand because of its secure messaging system, say analysts.
As BlackBerry tries to become a platform for all sorts of soft tools to appeal to the consumer market, its corporate clients may take a fresh look at device, they say.