Research in Motion (RIM) has announced it will make Bing the default search engine on BlackBerry phones starting this holiday season.
The announcement at the BlackBerry World 2011 conference on May 3 was big enough to merit Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's appearance on stage.
Details so far are scarce, but supposedly, Bing doesn't become an option on BlackBerry phones. According to reports, "the (Bing) search will apparently be integrated at an OS (operating system) level." There's no word so far as to which models will include Bing and which won't.
Microsoft has struck some similar deals in the past, with Bing becoming the default search engine on some (but not all) Verizon Android phones. There were rumors that Microsoft was negotiating with Apple to make Bing the default on iPhones, but that never came to be.
Today's deal also includes Bing Maps becoming the default on coming BlackBerry phones. Microsoft is currently working with Nokia to integrate Bing Maps with Nokia's Navteq/Ovi Maps technology. When I asked Microsoft officials recently as to whether Bing Maps technology ultimately would be supplanted by Ovi Maps, I was told by a spokesperson:
“Bing Maps has utilized Nokia content for road data, geo-coding and routing services for several years, through Nokia’s Navteq vector data business, relying on the quality of its data for core location services. The Nokia/MS partnership will enable deeper collaboration in the future.”
I've asked Microsoft for more particulars on the BlackBerry deal. No word back so far. Stay tuned.
Update: Microsoft has more details in a new Bing Community blog post.
Bing search and maps become the default on new BlackBerry phones coming as of this holiday season, both in the U.S. and internationally. Bing search will be an option on existing phones. Bing search and maps also becomes the default search engine on the BlackBerry Playbook tablet.
A Microsoft spokesperson elaborated with a few more specifics:
"Today, Bing and Research In Motion (RIM) announced a partnership to make Bing the preferred search and maps provider on all new BlackBerry devices. Bing will be the search default for the Blackberry browser, and the default search and maps provider on new RIM devices presented to mobile operators in the U.S. and select international markets. The Bing for Mobile BlackBerry App is also available for download in the BlackBerry App World store, and is a preferred app."
Update No. 2: Microsoft and RIM aren't talking about the terms of the deal, according to a Microsoft spokesperson. (I asked how much Microsoft paid to get this placement.) The deal seemingly includes other technologies, going forward, as Tech Republic's Jason Hiner noted in his coverage. From Hiner:
"The two companies are going to extend this search/maps partnership to bring “augmented reality” — a combination of maps, GPS, photo search, and more — to the BlackBerry platform. They are also going to integrate this with BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), RIM’s popular combination between IM and social networking."