Research In Motion, the Canadian group which makes the BlackBerry series of portable communications devices, warned that it will miss its third- and fourth-quarter subscriber targets because of delays in launching new machines.

RIM said it was cutting its forecast new subscriber additions for the third quarter by 8 per cent and the fourth by 3 per cent because of delays in shipping its new BlackBerry 8700 and 7130 devices.

The company, which also faces a potentially damaging court ruling on a patent dispute, had previously forecast that it would add 680,000-710,000 net new subscribers to the BlackBerry wireless email service in the third quarter which ends on Saturday and 775,000-825,000 subscribers in the fourth.

RIM said the previous forecast range was based on the expectation that the two next-generation BlackBerry handsets – both of which work with higher-speed data networks – would be launched and commercially available in early November.

Despite the delays, the company said it still expected third-quarter revenues to be in the range of $540m to $570m and did not anticipate any material impact to its previous fourth-quarter revenue guidance.

“We further entrenched our technology leadership and channel strength in the current quarter and we have grown our subscriber base by over 17 per cent to pass the 4m subscribers milestone,” Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-chief executive said.

RIM faces growing competition from Nokia, Motorola, Palm and others in the fast-growing market for wireless email. This, coupled with a long running patent dispute with NTP, a US-based patent-licensing firm, has made investors nervous and led to increased volatility in the stock.

RIM’s stock dropped 1.7 per cent to $65.91 in early trading on Nasdaq. They have fallen by almost 20 per cent this year mainly because of concern over the lawsuit.

NTP claims RIM’s BlackBerry devices breach its patents and has asked a US judge to force RIM to halt BlackBerry sales in the US, which accounts for almost 70 per cent of sales. Another ruling on the case is expected shortly.

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