RIM's growth slowed by legal worries

The overall impact was greater than previously anticipated, says the company

Blackberry users may be breathing a sigh of relief now the long-running lawsuit with NTP is over, but Blackberry maker Research In Motion (RIM) will be counting the cost - in lost customers - for some time to come.

"While some uncertainty was anticipated in December, the overall impact was greater than previously anticipated," the company says in a statement.

While all around mobile email is booming, Blackberry's revenues were flat for the quarter, and about US$50 million less than expected.

The company attracted 70,000 fewer new subscribers than expected during the quarter that ended on Saturday, and admits the shortfall was due to "uncertainty surrounding the NTP litigation" which caused corporate customers to hold off on BlackBerrys, or buy other solutions.

The setback isn't enough to put the company in reverse, of course. The Blackberry is still by far the leading mobile email device in market share, and at US$550 million, the company's new projection for the quarter's turnover, should still be a thumping 35% higher than turnover a year ago.

And despite gaining fewer subscribers, the 620,000 new users it put on in the quarter represent about 10% of all the mobile email users in the world, according to most estimates of mobile email usage.

"As we put this lengthy and complicated litigation behind us, we extend our sincere gratitude to all of our customers and supporters for their patience and loyalty," says Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of RIM.

Despite this complacency, other vendors are lining up to do mobile email, including Microsoft. While this crisis didn't convince many to change, the pressure will be on in future.

RIM's full results for the quarter should be out on April 6.

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