RIM 'Connects' with Microsoft, Symbian

UPDATE: The 'BlackBerry Connect' licensing program opens up the wireless e-mail gateway to mobile device makers. Symbian and Microsoft are among the first to sign on.

NEW ORLEANS -- Research in Motion , used the CTIA Wireless 2003 spotlight on Monday to formally unveil its 'BlackBerry Connect' licensing program and immediately announced deals to open its wireless e-mail gateway to the Symbian and Microsoft operating systems.

RIM also scored a deal with Taiwan-based High Tech Computer (HTC), a leading OEM for Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC and Smartphone products, including Hewlett-Packard's iPAQ line.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, known mostly for its e-mail pager device, said the 'BlackBerry Connect' licensing program clears the way for rival mobile devices to connect to its BlackBerry Enterprise Server using a push-based wireless architecture and infrastructure.

In what is viewed as huge client wins for RIM, the company has signed up Symbian and Microsoft , and plans to add Nokia in the second half of 2003. Financial terms of the deals were not released.

"We're looking to give customers what they want: choice," Mark Guibert, vice president of brand management at RIM, told internetnews.com. "And we want to expand our market opportunity in doing so."

RIM said it would provide a BlackBerry connectivity solution to carriers and Symbian OS licensees to enable wireless e-mail and corporate data services on Symbian telephones. The U.K.-based Symbian counts Psion, Ericsson and Motorola as stakeholders.

A similar deal was announced Monday to enable BlackBerry connectivity for mobile devices based on the Microsoft Windows Powered Pocket PC and Smartphone platforms. RIM said its technology would be used by mobile device manufacturers and mobile operators easily integrate BlackBerry email and data services into their Pocket PC and Smartphone products.

"RIM is committed to enhancing and extending the BlackBerry wireless platform with multi-device and multi-network support," said RIM chairman Jim Balsillie. He said the company had worked closely with Microsoft on integrating BlackBerry with Exchange and was now expanding that partnership to provide BlackBerry connectivity to Smartphone and Pocket PC licensees.

The company's BlackBerry is styled as a wireless enterprise platform that supports back-end integration, end-to-end security and push-based wireless applications for corporate customers.

But the licensing plan also allows RIM to extend its influence into consumer markets -- especially "pro-sumers" looking for a business solution without enterprise backing -- without over-extending itself by taking a competitive stance in the lower-end commodity handheld market.

Guibert also noted that the licensing program satisfies customer demand for multi-vendor options.

"We can differentiate on the handheld side on the higher end," Guibert said.

Separately, RIM introduced a new pager -- the BlackBerry 6210 -- a data and voice-enabled device for the North American market.

The company said the new pager would feature increased memory for application and data storage and new support for wireless e-mail synchronization and integrated attachment viewing. Based on Java, the BlackBerry 6210 promises delivery of e-mail, phone, SMS, browser and organizer applications.






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