Ballmer surprises some with Microsoft-RIM partnership

Microsoft's Bing will become the default search engine in BlackBerry devices

Microsoft will invest in the BlackBerry platform from Research in Motion, becoming the default search provider in BlackBerry browsers and maps, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during a surprise keynote appearance at BlackBerry World today.

The news shocked several bloggers and analysts who tweeted the news from the keynote event in Orlando, Fla. Ballmer's appeared onstage at about 9:30 a.m. ET and surprised many of the 6,000 in attendance. [Microsoft has been aggressively pushing its Bing brower for some time, and last year Apple added it to iOS as one of the search engine options. So the bloggers' surprise is a surprise to InfoWorld. --Ed.]

[ Looking at RIM's self-inflicted wounds, InfoWorld's Galen Gruman wonders, is it the end of BlackBerry? | iPhone, BlackBerry, or Android? Whatever handheld you use or manage, turn to InfoWorld for the latest developments. Subscribe to InfoWorld's Mobilize newsletter today. ]

A video during the keynote showed BlackBerry voice search also using Bing, according to bloggers. Gartner analyst Michael Gartenberg tweeted the news on Bing's becoming the default search engine on the BlackBerry. Later, Gartenberg tweeted: "Wonder how much MSFT paid for that Bing deal?" Microsoft's partnership with Nokia, reported in February, cost Microsoft more than $1 billion by comparison, according to reports.

Blogger Kevin Michaluk from Crackberry.com said Ballmer talked of expanding BlackBerry's relationship with Bing with more integration coming this Christmas. Microsoft and RIM executives were not immediately available to offer further details.

Michaluk noted that Ballmer left the stage after about 10 minutes and commented, "Wow ... that was weird and cool."

Computerworld will update this story as information becomes available.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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This story, "Ballmer surprises some with Microsoft-RIM partnership" was originally published by Computerworld.

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