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Ballmer surprises with Microsoft-RIM partnership

Bing to be default search in BlackBerry devices

May 3, 2011 11:23 AM ET

Computerworld - 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 live bloggers and analysts who tweeted the news from the keynote event in Orlando. Ballmer appeared onstage at about 9:30 a.m. Eastern time and surprised many of the 6,000 in attendance.

"We're going to invest uniquely into the BlackBerry platform," Ballmer said, according to several live bloggers. "Bing will become the default search provider in the browser and maps" on BlackBerry devices, he added, saying "I've never been more excited about where our future is going."

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

Blogger Kevin Michaluk from Crackberry.com said Ballmer talked of expanding the BlackBerry-Bing relationship, with more integration due in time for the holiday shopping season. Microsoft and RIM executives were not immediately available to offer further details.

Noting that Ballmer left the stage after about 10 minutes, Michaluk 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 Twitter @matthamblen, or subscribe to Hamblen RSSMatt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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