By Randall Palmer
OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government is watching smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd carefully as it explores options including sale of the company but will not comment on its affairs, Industry Minister James Moore said on Wednesday.
Loss-making BlackBerry, which has bled market share to Apple's iPhone and phones using Google's Android operating system, said last week it was weighing options that could include an outright sale.
The company's new phones, introduced earlier this year, have sold less quickly than expected and BlackBerry expects more red ink for the current quarter at least.
Speaking in an interview with Reuters, Moore said it was "unfortunate" that BlackBerry's new Q10 and the Z10 smartphones had not taken off with consumers.
"I know that they're facing their challenges and they're adjusting their firm internally in the way that best suits their interests," he said. "And all I can say is, we wish them well, and we're keeping a close eye on the situation."
Moore declined to speculate about whether a foreign bid for BlackBerry could run afoul of national security regulations. Asked if the government wanted BlackBerry to stay Canadian, he replied: "We want them to do well, keep employing Canadians, keeping putting out innovative technologies and platforms, and we're paying close attention."
BlackBerry, formerly known as Research In Motion, made on-your-hip email possible with its first pagers and smartphones, coupled with strong security features.
But the company was slow to embrace the important consumer market and rivals are rapidly pushing into the corporate and government market that BlackBerry used to own.
(Writing by Janet Guttsman; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)