RIM's user base is sliding -

Research In Motion's user base has stopped growing, signalling that the slide against the company is reaching a critical stage.

RIM is having to tackle a long-running slump in sales, a lack of gear that anyone is interested in and the fact that few believe its new but delayed range of products will pull its nadgers out of the fire.

However, until now it has managed to sell enough devices to keep adding to the BlackBerry user base.

This is a population of 78 million with includes enough genetic diversity to avoid extinction.

But according to the Globe and Mail the growth story has finally ended and is now declining. Existing customers are abandoning RIM in greater numbers than new customers sign up.

Kris Thompson of National Bank Financial said that this quarter will see zero subscriber growth and from the next quarter, the sub base will be in a downward spiral.

He said that the Blackberry 10 release will potentially slow the losses, but he was not holding his breath.

Analysts expect RIM's revenue to slip again to about $2.5 billion from $2.8 billion in the last quarter, and $4.2-billion in the quarter before that.

However, Mike Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity said his research indicates that cheaper BlackBerry models are still selling well in markets such as Indonesia and the Middle East.

RIM’s higher-end Bold and Torch models are doing badly. He seems to suggest that RIM, with its secure network, might find a niche in the cheap and cheerful market.