Yahoo and RIM extend alliance

BlackBerry users will soon be able to access Yahoo's Web email and IM services through their device, as RIM pushes beyond the corporate email market

Research in Motion (RIM) has extended its alliance with Internet giant Yahoo in a move which analysts believe will help move its BlackBerry devices into the mass-market.

The deal, announced on Wednesday at the world mobile phone trade show CTIA in Las Vegas, will see Yahoo’s recently announced Yahoo Go service integrated into RIM’s BlackBerry phones. Users will be able to click on a single icon to access a range of Yahoo services, including mail, search and Instant messaging applications.

Jim Balsillie, RIM's chairman and co-chief executive, said the collaboration would "deliver increasingly rich content and services, including enhanced support for Yahoo Mail, to BlackBerry customers in over sixty countries."

"Our job is to create a rich user experience for our community so that they want to use Yahoo on it, and hopefully we create such a rich experience for the Yahoo community that they want to buy a BlackBerry and run Yahoo on it," Balsillie told Reuters.

Although Yahoo Messenger has already been pre-installed on BlackBerry devices for about a year, this new level of integration is seen as a step towards making the Blackberry more functional for everyday consumers.

It will now be possible for BlackBerry owners without a BlackBerry Enterprise Server to wirelessly synchronize their Yahoo Mail to their device. While the paid-for POP3 subscription service Yahoo Plus has been available for a while, RIM’s customers will now be able to receive and control their Web mail in real-time on their device, at no extra cost beyond that of the BlackBerry Internet Service itself.

"The challenge for BlackBerry is to expand its appeal and the solution that they’ve offered to the executive market to date has done well, but they do need to get a lot more services onto the device," Chris Lewis of analyst group Ovum told ZDNet UK.

"The whole development of more applications on more mobile devices is where the end-user wants to see things go," Lewis said. "What we’re seeing now is the expansion of more mobility applications to the mass market".

The service is initially available just to T-Mobile customers in the US, but will be rolling out across 160 carriers worldwide within the coming weeks.