Microsoft has sealed a deal with Research in Motion to integrate Bing search and services into BlackBerry devices. Couple the RIM deal with a Nokia partnership and we're about to enter an interesting juncture with Microsoft's mobile strategy: In a year or so, the software giant will have its distribution and partnerships in place.
Ballmer, Bing, BlackBerry
Then the fun begins: Consumers will either gravitate to Microsoft's mobile properties---Windows Phone 7 and Bing services---or they won't. In any case, there will be no excuses.
Let's do a quick inventory:
- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appears at BlackBerry World and says that Bing will be the default search and maps provider. Good deal for both parties and some buzz generated. Microsoft likely paid RIM a lot of dough and the BlackBerry needs better mapping. Ballmer said: ”We’re going to invest uniquely in the BlackBerry platform in addition to our own platform.”
- These Bing services---GPS, photo search and BlackBerry Messenger integration---will appear later this year.
- Nokia obviously gives Microsoft global distribution. Microsoft and Nokia recently finalized their partnership. Windows Phone 7 is likely to become a major smartphone OS courtesy of Nokia.
- Microsoft still has to land more carrier distribution---notably at Verizon Wireless---but let's assume that'll come along.
Nokia CEO Elop and Microsoft CEO Ballmer
Add it up and Microsoft is escorting both RIM and Nokia through what is likely to be a rough 2011. RIM has fill-in products before its QNX superphones appear in 2012---that's the reality no matter what co-CEO Jim Balsillie says---and Nokia will hit Windows Phone 7 volume in 2012. In the meantime, Nokia will sell you a few Symbian smartphones.
This time next year, Microsoft will have OS and services distribution on both the consumer and enterprise fronts. Even if you assume RIM and Nokia nearly unravel, Microsoft's mobile efforts will have some serious smartphone distribution.
At that point, Microsoft will either shut up technology's chattering class, which remains skeptical about the software giant's mobile potential, or not. Tech buyers will be both the judge and jury. The certainty will be nice to have:
Ballmer said Tuesday:
“We’re super committed to innovate with Bing and BlackBerry. This goes way beyond a search box. It’s about giving real people real tools to help them gets things done.”
Now all consumers have to do is accept those tools.
- RIM talks itself into a BlackBerry corner, leaves no room for error
- RIM cuts outlook as BlackBerry shipments light; PlayBook in line
- Nokia cuts 4,000 jobs; Symbian developers to land at Accenture