There was a time when BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) looked like a certain failure. In the summer of 2004, patent litigation and a proliferation of smartphones from competitors such as Samsung, Nokia (NYSE:NOK), and Palm (NASDAQ:PALM) smacked the high-flying stock to the ground. Over the next two years, the share price barely moved.

But then something funny happened. Most of the lawsuits were settled. The BlackBerry product line reestablished its addictive worth in corporate America. And the rest of the world started catching the bug, too. By the end of 2006, RIM proved that it could deliver consistent, profitable growth, and the share price recouped its losses from the 2004 nosedive.

And the beat goes on. Yesterday's quarterly report was full of sizzle, but also heavy on steak. Sales, net income, and structural cash flow all more than doubled over last year, and the company's cash coffers are fatter than ever, to the tune of more than $1.3 billion. Got more lawsuits? Bring 'em on -- RIM can afford to put up a fight these days.

Much of the growth is happening outside North America. Every Research In Motion report highlights the company's new sales channels across the globe, through carriers like Turkcell (NYSE:TKC), Vodafone (NYSE:VOD), and Telefonica SA in markets like Turkey, Egypt, Hong Kong, India, and Latin America. At the moment, RIM seems to be emulating international superstar Nokia, with its eclectic market mix and no qualms about using multiple carriers per geographical market.

That's a marked contrast to Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) piecemeal exclusivity, restricting its iPhones to one vendor per region. Despite its abundant hype, the iPhone certainly doesn't seem to be stealing many customers from the BlackBerry camp, as many had feared.

It all adds up to one sweet, sweet berry. RIM investors have been rewarded with a 160% return this year, beating out even Apple's 87% price gain and Nokia's 80% boost. Compare and contrast with a timid 8% jump for Palm in the same time frame, and Motorola's (NYSE:MOT) 8% drop in value, and I think you can see which mobile mavens have the current market figured out.

Further Foolishness:

Palm is a longtime Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, Vodafone Group is an Inside Value pick, and Turkcell Iletism Hizmetleri AS is a Motley Fool Global Gains selection. Whether you like your business names short and simple or unpronounceable, there's a Foolish newsletter for you -- free for 30 days, no matter which way you swing.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies discussed here, and doesn't own a cell phone. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like, and Foolish disclosure is a great read on your BlackBerry, Sidekick, iPhone, or N95.