Bing to become default search tool on BlackBerry

Microsoft has teamed up with RIM to make its Bing search and mapping tool the standard on BlackBerry devices, with other Bing-based integration to follow

Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer has announced that Bing will be Research In Motion's default search engine on all its mobile devices and that Microsoft will develop Bing applications for BlackBerry.

Steve Ballmer

At the BlackBerry World conference, Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer revealed that Bing will be integrated into the BlackBerry OS. Photo credit: Mary Branscombe

Appearing on stage at Research In Motion's (RIM) BlackBerry World conference on Tuesday, Ballmer introduced the new alliance by stressing "the value created when companies can work together and partner deeply". He also noted the announcement in March that BlackBerry services will be linked to Microsoft's Office 365 cloud applications platform.

"We're uniquely investing in BlackBerry alongside our cloud services, delivering value in the enterprise customer environment," Ballmer told the audience in Orlando, Florida.

Under the new agreement, Microsoft's search engine Bing will be the preferred search and mapping partner for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets. It will also be the default in new RIM devices, with a preferred position in the Canadian mobile maker's App World store.

Calling the relationship "an expanding platform", Ballmer told his audience that Bing will be integrated into the BlackBerry platform at the OS level by the Christmas holiday season.

We're uniquely investing in BlackBerry alongside our cloud services, delivering value in the enterprise customer environment.

– Steve Ballmer, Microsoft

"It will be a core component beyond the application level," he said. "Developers will be able to use it for unique experiences for consumer and enterprise customers."

The Bing tools will have access to BlackBerry hardware, he added. For example, they will be able to use the device camera and microphone for multi-modal search.

Ballmer said the partnership is part of Microsoft's search strategy. This sees mobile devices as sensors with real-time access to information and views the mobile sphere as a place where there will be a convergence of search, commerce, social and location-centric services.

"It's combining the topical graph of the web with your social graph and with the geospatial graph," Ballmer said.

Microsoft's mobile strategy

In recent months, Microsoft has stepped up its moves in the mobile realm. In February, it revealed a partnership with Nokia that makes Windows Phone 7 the primary smartphone platform for the Finnish handset maker's devices. In addition, it launched a Bing app for Apple's iPad tablet in April.

At BlackBerry World, a video demonstration showed BlackBerry devices being used in conjunction with Bing's voice services and live Streetside mapping, as well as with Bing's standard search features.

A further demo given by the architect of Bing Maps and Bing Mobile, Blaise Aguera y Arcas, showed the use of Bing's mapping tools to drill down into venue information. For example, he searched for a nearby restaurant and booked a table without leaving the Bing BlackBerry application.

The conference also saw a demonstration of Microsoft's Photosynth image-stitching technology running on BlackBerry.

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