By Ed Oswald | Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm
I don’t think anyone saw this one coming. This week is the BlackBerry World conference, probably something a lot of us didn’t know (except for Harry maybe?). Well, Steve Ballmer — yes, the CEO of Microsoft — made news at the conference.
The surprise guest of a talk starring president and co-CEO Mike Lazardis, Ballmer was on hand to announce Microsoft has signed a deal with RIM to become the exclusive provider of search and mapping functions on BlackBerry devices. Even more surprising? Bing and Microsoft would find itself deeply integrated into BlackBerry OS 7, coming later this year.
“This goes way beyond search box,” Ballmer was quoted by ReadWriteWeb as saying to attendees. “It’s about real tools that help real people get things done.” All in all, it really looks like RIM just handed the keys to the services component of the OS right over to the Redmond company.
Why did RIM do this? I think it’s pretty straightforward — putting it in the nicest terms, RIM’s own applications for these various services suck (I owned a Blackberry Pearl for a time way back in the day). Allowing Microsoft to take over the services side for its customers allows RIM to focus on more important things.
As we all know, RIM has got its you-know-what handed to itself in recent months as both Android and iOS take a lion’s share of the smartphone market. The company really needs to start making moves now before its too late, I think everyone can agree on that.
Not everybody thinks this is smart. Take for example Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg, who tweeted this: “‘The enemy of my enemy is my friend’ is not a great business strategy. Marry someone out of love not because you both hate someone.”
Maybe he has a point?