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RIM says exploring investment opportunities in India

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM-T) said on Monday it is evaluating investment opportunities in India, including in manufacturing and logistics, as it seeks to expand in the world's fastest-growing market for mobile phones.

RIM's Chief Information Officer Robin Bienfait was in India to meet with major BlackBerry customers as well as current and prospective business partners, it said in a statement.

"Robin plans to further explore such (investment) possibilities in India during her visit," the company said in a statement.

RIM's statement comes at a time when it is being buffeted by demands from governments for access to secure BlackBerry communication. India has demanded access to all BlackBerry services as part of efforts to fight militancy and security threats over the Internet and through telephone communications.

RIM gave India access to BlackBerry Messenger services but said it did not have the technical capabilities to provide interception of corporate emails on the popular device.

RIM is estimated to have more than a million BlackBerry users in India, where a population of more than 1 billion gives the company ample opportunity for growth.

"India is an important and strategic market for RIM and its exciting and fast growing mobile sector offers major potential for further expansion," it said in the statement.

With 771 million mobile subscribers at end-January, India is the world's second-biggest mobile phone market lagging only China. Indian mobile carriers signed up an average 19 million customers per month in 2010.

Smartphone sales are still low in the market where voice calls dominate carriers' revenue, but are seeing faster growth with launch of third-generation networks.

Researcher Gartner expects smartphone sales to account for 18 percent of total handset sales by 2014, from just over 5 percent last year.

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