ROB GILLIES

TORONTO (AP) ¿ BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. surprised Wall Street on Thursday as it reported a 59 percent increase in third-quarter income, boosted by new subscribers and record sales of its smart phones.

More than 80 percent of the Canadian company's new subscribers were non-corporate customers, a sign of the BlackBerry's popularity among consumers amid intense competition from devices such as Apple Inc.'s iPhone, Palm Inc.'s Pre and Motorola Inc.'s Droid.

Shares surged more than 12 percent in after-hours trading.

After initially focusing on corporate customers, RIM has expanded its reach into the consumer market in recent years with such touch-screen models as the BlackBerry Storm. Two years ago, half of RIM's new subscribers were business customers. In the third quarter, they made up less than a fifth.

"The consumer side is growing real fast," co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said on a conference call with analysts. "It's not like this isn't a competitive space with big companies trying to do well and yet we're No. 1."

RIM sold more than 10 million BlackBerry phones during the third quarter, beating the previous record of 8.3 million, set during the second quarter. By contrast, Apple shipped 7.4 million iPhones in the most recent quarter.

"This shows that RIM is as popular a device as it's ever been, selling more units than its largest competitor," said Duncan Stewart, director of research and analysis at DSam Consulting.

If you liked this article you might like

What's Behind the Surge in Energy Stocks

Hillary Clinton Says Prosecuting Individuals is Key to Wall Street Reform