At the CTIA wireless trade show today Microsoft announced an extension of its existing relationship with BlackBerry maker RIM. Previously Microsoft released special versions of Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail for the BlackBerry. The Live Search downloadable client was also available for Blackberry. However today the company announced that Live Search will be available on the BlackBerry home screen (no download required).
Yesterday Google announced a new live search downloadable client for the BlackBerry. MapQuest also introduced an improved mobile client for BlackBerry devices in conjunction with the trade show. (Yesterday Yahoo made two announcements connected to the iPhone.)
I wasn’t able to confirm whether Live Search now becomes the default provider for BlackBerry but that’s how it appears from the announcement. As part of the deal there’s also going to be a deeper integration of Live Search local data into Blackberry Maps.
According to a Microsoft spokesperson, search results obtained from the BlackBerry Live Search integration will be the same mobile internet results as currently available through mobile.live.com.
The MapQuest 4 Mobile client (also for BlackBerry devices) emphasizes maps & directions — one of the top consumer usage categories in mobile — but offers local business search as well. In addition it has a “GPS Find Me” feature that allows a user to locate him or herself and then obtain directions to any destination from that point. It also tracks users as they progress along the route toward that destination.
While less innovative than the iPhone, BlackBerry is a critical device because it owns by far the largest market share for smartphones in the US (Nokia does globally). IDC reported earlier this week that BlackBerry had 53.6 percent of the U.S. market for smartphones in the second quarter, up from 44.5 percent in the first quarter.