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Microsoft, RIM take on Google in mobile search

Matt Hamblen | May 3, 2011
Ballmer announces that Bing will be default search and mapping tool on BlackBerry devices.

In a blog post later Tuesday, Microsoft's Bing director, Matt Dahlin, noted that Bing is already shipping as the default search and map application for the recently released BlackBerry PlayBook. "Together we'll also market and promote the strength of our joint offerings as 'Making better decisions with Bing on BlackBerry,' " he said.

Dahlin also said there will be a "convergence of search, commerce, social and location-centric searches where Bing will provide the intelligence and the organizing layer in the cloud that connects a user's intent with action, helping people be more productive."

Deciding to work together against Google makes sense for both RIM and Microsoft, analysts said.

"RIM doesn't really want Google as the default search and mapping tool, since RIM competes so heavily with Android, also made by Google," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J.Gold Associates.

Meanwhile, "Microsoft has the potential to make lots of money with Bing search and services, so it's a win for Microsoft and takes revenues that Google would have had. So both companies get something out of this, and both are poking at Google with this partnership."

Gold noted that Microsoft already has a partnership with RIM on cloud-based hosting services through RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Server and with office productivity software.

Even though Microsoft has Windows Phone 7, an operating system for smartphones that Nokia and others will deploy, "the potential revenue implications for Bing are actually far greater than [for] WP7," Gold added.

Burden said that the partnership with RIM is "almost like a kind of safety net for Microsoft, since what happens if Windows Phone doesn't take off? The safety net is to make sure you have a mobile play and that Microsoft isn't shut out completely." Rather than relying just on the Windows Phone OS, Microsoft "realizes that one of their best plays is to be an enabler or technology," Burden added.

Burden and Gartenberg wondered how much Microsoft paid RIM to be its preferred search and maps provider, given that Microsoft paid more than $1 billon to provide the operating system for Nokia devices, a fact acknowledged by Nokia officials in February.

Microsoft wouldn't discuss any terms of the alliance.

Burden concluded: "To be the preferred provider for BlackBerry didn't come for free. I don't know what the number is, but it is certainly not free."

 

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