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RIM Counts on Wave of BlackBerry Government Upgrades

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Nov. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Research In Motion Ltd.’s more than 1 million government customers in North America are set to upgrade to new BlackBerry 10 devices in droves, Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said today.

About 400,000 government customers worldwide got new BlackBerry versions in the last year, and Heins said he expects at least that number to splurge on the new models next year. RIM said yesterday it will begin selling the phones in February on multiple continents.

“I would be surprised if we don’t see quite a wave moving over to BlackBerry 10,” Heins said during a Bloomberg Government interview with reporters and editors.

Some of RIM’s earliest and most loyal customers have been U.S. government agencies that have used BlackBerry devices for more than a decade. Faced with a growing number of federal offices that have embraced a bring-your-own device policy as a way of saving money, Heins said he’s determined to win their business.

The company is counting on BlackBerry 10, which allows users to run multiple applications at once and lets them peek at one program while running another, to stop two years of market share losses to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and devices running Google Inc.’s Android software.

RIM tumbled 4.7 percent to $8.40 today in New York, after two days of gains. The shares have dropped 42 percent this year.

To contact the reporters on this story: Hugo Miller in Toronto at hugomiller@bloomberg.net; Brendan McGarry in Washington at bmcgarry2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Turner at nturner7@bloomberg.net