A funny thing happened at the Blackberry World conference today: Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer strode on stage and announced that Bing would be the default search engine and maps provider for Research in Motion’s Blackberry smartphones.
Yes, the same Blackberry that stakes its reputation on business use. The same business use that was once the bread and butter of Windows Mobile. Microsoft and RIM may be old enemies, but these are different times.
Microsoft re-entered the smartphone fight as an underdog with Windows Phone 7. On its own, it has a slim chance of claiming a big chunk of mobile searches with Bing. Partnering with RIM gives Bing a boost, and in the valuable business demographic to boot. RIM, meanwhile, gets a search partner that isn’t Google — the very company that threatens RIM’s existence with Android.
For now, Google shouldn’t be too worried. Blackberry is quickly losing U.S. market share, and Windows Phone 7 has yet to gain much traction. Google still powers search for Android (with rare exceptions) and the iPhone, the two dominant smartphone platforms in the United States. There were rumors in January of Bing replacing Google as the iPhone’s default search engine, but they haven’t materialized.
That leaves Blackberry, and possibly HP’s WebOS, which at the very least will rely on Bing Maps in the upcoming TouchPad tablet. It’s not the clearest path to search dominance, but it’s better than nothing. So RIM and Microsoft’s search alliance, however unholy, is not at all surprising.
The first devices to sport Bing integration will ship this holiday season.
(via This is My Next)