Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a surprise appearance at the BlackBerry World 2011 keynote in Orlando on Tuesday and announced a new partnership between Microsoft and Research and Motion that will make Bing the default search engine and maps provider for BlackBerry devices. This will begin to show up on BlackBerry smartphones later this year.
After joining RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis on stage, Ballmer announced, "We're going to invest uniquely in the BlackBerry platform in addition to our own platform."
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.
"We're super committed to innovate with Bing and BlackBerry," said Ballmer. "This goes way beyond a search box. It's about giving real people real tools to help them gets things done."
Photo credit: Jason Hiner
Ballmer said this was his first time at BlackBerry World, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, but as he walked off the stage he said, "We'll be back." That sounds like RIM and Microsoft have signed a long-term partnership.
As my colleague Larry Dignan joked, Microsoft is now the friend to all ailing smartphone makers.