According to a tweet from Michael Gartenberg Bing is going to be the default search engine on RIM BlackBerry devices.
Apparently Steve Ballmer took the stage at BlackBerry World 2011 and announced that Bing and Bing Maps would be “integrated at the OS level” on BlackBerry handsets coming later this year.
Bing for Mobile offers a generally strong user experience and this is an interesting effort at differentiation for RIM (vs. Android and iPhone). However, regardless of whose numbers you consult RIM has been losing smartphone share to Apple and Google over the past year.
Below are the most recent IDC global smarpthone figures. RIM is not among the “top five.”
ComScore shows the one-time smartphone leader falling into second place (vs. Google) in the US market:
RIM recently introduced a tablet, the Playbook, which it hopes will challenge the iPad. However the device received very mixed reviews and is unlikely to sell well among consumers. The company also recently cut its sales outlook for the quarter, indicting that it continues to struggle and that the BlackBerry brand is even starting to tarnish.
Microsoft partnered with Nokia in a big way to try and boost the mobile fortunes of both companies. However the validation of that decision has yet to play out for either — although IDC and other IT consulting firms are forecasting big gains for Windows Phones over time, as a result of the relationship.
For a time there had been speculation about whether Microsoft might try and buy RIM prior to the announcement of the Nokia deal. While much less likely in the wake of the Nokia partnership announcement, a Microsoft acquisition of RIM is not entirely inconceivable if BlackBerry were to continue to lose share and the Nokisoft deal failed to bear fruit for the two companies.
Postscript: A blog post explains the collaboration in some additional detail:
Central to this collaboration, Blackberry devices will use Bing as the preferred search provider in the browser, and Bing will be the default search and map application for new devices presented to mobile operators, both in the United States and internationally. Also, effective today Bing will be the preferred search and maps applications with regular, featured placement and promotion in the BlackBerry App World carousel.
Bing is also now shipping as the default search experience, and map app, for the newly released BlackBerry Playbook. Together, we’ll also market and promote the strength of our joint offerings as “Making better decisions with Bing on BlackBerry.”
One question to ask is whether Microsoft made any payments or promise of payments to BlackBerry/RIM. My suspicion is that it did or will, as with most of these types of “default” deals. If so, I’m sure that information will “out” in the near future.