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Two of the more enterprise-focused mobile computing companies have struck a partnership: Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) has agreed to make Microsoft’s Bing the default search provider on browsers and apps on all new releases of the BlackBerry and the Playbook, as well as the mapping service on those devices.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s CEO, made the trek down to Orlando Tuesday to highlight the partnership, also saying that Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) plans to “invest uniquely” in the BlackBerry according to reports, although it’s not clear if he was referring to the partnership or additional investment to be made in the future. But in a blog post outlining the announcement, Microsoft’s Matt Dahlin, director of Bing, wrote: “We’re going to see a convergence of search, commerce, social and location-centric services 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.”
In some ways it makes an awful lot of sense for RIM and Microsoft to strike a partnership, in “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” way of thinking. Installing Google (NSDQ: GOOG) as a default search engine simply gives the company more revenue with which to enhance Android, a problem for both RIM and Microsoft as they try to catch up to the pace set by Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Google.
However, while Microsoft has sunk an unbelievable amount of money into promotion for Bing, Google is still the reigning search king and a strong brand with consumers. Even Apple, loath to say anything nice about Google these days, has kept Google as the default iOS search experience despite long-standing rumors that it would ditch Google for Bing. And in any event, there aren’t all that many people making mobile buying decisions based on the default search provider for the device.
Still, if RIM truly does recapture the heart of its enterprise following with its new devices, the opportunities for Microsoft and RIM to work together are plentiful. RIM and Microsoft have already announced plans to launch a free version of BlackBerry Enterprise Server that works with Exchange Online, and the BlackBerry could be the gateway vehicle for several Microsoft-provided mobile cloud services that won’t really have a chance to get traction in the market until Microsoft’s deal with Nokia (NYSE: NOK) starts bearing fruit.