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Consumers are moving away from purchasing premium Blackberry handsets, such as the recently launched Storm. Instead, they are opting for cheaper models, which analysts are predicting could have an impact on the company’s bottom line.

Last night, Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, reported that earnings rose 37% in the last quarter. There is also speculation that carriers who have exclusively sold the BlackBerry will now start selling the iPhone in a move that could impact the Canadian company.

Currently, RIM is in a pitched battle for the consumer smartphone market, going head-to-head against Apple iPhone and several devices that run on the Google Android operating system.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company is trying shake off worries that the smartphone market is shifting away from its email-centric BlackBerry to devices such as the HTC Desire or the Apple iPhone, which offer a richer Web and multimedia experience.

RIM’s reported fourth-quarter earnings rose 37% to $710 million, or $1.27 a share, up from a profit of $518.3 million, or 90 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue rose to $4.08 billion, but fell short of the company’s forecast for sales of between $4.2 billion and $4.4 billion and analysts’ revenue estimate of $4.31 billion.

The company is taking steps to address criticisms of its smartphones, disclosing plans for a new Web browser and acquiring a company that specialises in iPhone-like applications.

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