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RIM Looking To Hire As Rivals Cut Jobs

The BlackBerry maker is not as hard-hit by the economic downturn because smartphones are still expected to have strong growth.

While the global economic slowdown is taking a bite out of the mobile market and causing many cell phone manufacturers to cut jobs, Research In Motion is still looking to fill hundreds of positions.

The smartphone maker said it plans to make about 600 new hires in order to support its growing portfolio of BlackBerry products. The company is looking to bolster its 12,000-member-strong workforce with new engineers, salespeople, and software developers, executives said.

"We've built this business on some really spectacular talent and some great chemistry," co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said in an interview with Bloomberg. "We're not about to let that down."

Many of these new hires could come from rivals like Nokia, Motorola, and Sony Ericsson, which have cut thousands of jobs because of the decreased consumer demand for new cell phones. These companies are especially vulnerable to the downturn in the mobile market because they rely on a large number of entry-level and midlevel phones.

RIM has been able to avoid the downturn so far, and it posted a strong fourth quarter thanks to handsets like the BlackBerry Storm. Smartphone sales are expected to defy the sluggishness in the overall mobile market, and RIM said its push architecture will be a key differentiator from its rivals.

The company is still the dominant player in the enterprise space, but more than 40% of its 25 million subscribers are casual or noncorporate users. This means RIM will increasingly be clashing with competitors like Apple's iPhone and the Google-backed Android platform. In a bid to attract more casual customers, RIM launched its App World with the goal of giving users an easy way to find, buy, download, and install apps over the air.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the use of business software on smartphones. Download the report here (registration required).

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