10-17-2005, 02:18 AM
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| | [2005-10-17] RIM and Palm deliver BlackBerry Connect to Treo 650
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Palm Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. have set aside their fierce rivalry with a deal to offer RIM's BlackBerry wireless e-mail service over Palm's Treo 650 smartphone, the two firms said on Monday.
Palm and RIM, whose BlackBerry handset competes with the Treo, said they expect U.S. and international phone companies to begin offering the combined product starting in early 2006.
The deal is being done through RIM's BlackBerry Connect licensing program, which is designed to expand its subscriber base while turning potential competitors into allies.
Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM had about 3.65 million subscribers to its e-mail service at the end of its most recent quarter.
Almost all of those subscribers access the service through RIM's own thumb-operated BlackBerry, which helped popularize wireless e-mailing when it was launched in 1999.
RIM Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said the deal shows RIM is serious about selling its software and e-mail services on competing devices.
Balsillie said the BlackBerry Connect program currently has "several tens of thousands" subscribers, but that should ramp up soon. Leading mobile phone maker Nokia is also offering BlackBerry Connect over some of its devices.
"There's no question that there is a lot of demand for the Palm Treo in the marketplace out there. Certainly we see it in our customers," he said.
Balsillie said the two firms had been working together for about a year but didn't want to announce the offering "until it was imminently ready."
Palm Inc. Chief Executive Ed Colligan said his firm pursued the alliance because he wanted to maximize choice and flexibility for Palm's customers.
"We both believe that cooperating has a stronger impact on our general business upside because there's demand from both carriers and enterprise partners for us to work together," he said. "We really have taken a very open platform approach to this."
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Colligan said Treo will also support mobile e-mail from RIM competitors such as Visto, Seven and Good Technology.
The alliance comes after Palm and Microsoft Corp. last month unveiled plans to offer a Treo cell phone running Microsoft's mobile software.
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