May 042011
 

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s Bing will be the
default search engine and map application on Research In Motion
Ltd. (RIM)’s BlackBerry smartphones, a boon for the software maker as
it seeks expand in mobile devices and catch up with Google Inc. (GOOG)

Bing will be “deeply integrated” into the devices,
creating “unique experiences for millions of BlackBerry
customers,” Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer
said today in an unbilled appearance at the annual BlackBerry
World trade show in Orlando, Florida. He said the partnership
will be ready in time for the holiday shopping season later this
year.

Microsoft is trying to challenge Google, whose share of the
U.S. search market is more than four times larger than that of
Bing. The RIM partnership also advances Microsoft’s efforts to
expand in mobile devices, a campaign that includes a pact with
Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the world’s largest mobile-phone maker by unit sales.

Microsoft has added search features, stepped up the
marketing of Bing and teamed up with former rival Yahoo! Inc. to
increase its market share. Google had 65.4 percent of searches
in February, compared with Bing’s 13.6 percent, according to
Reston, Virginia-based research firm ComScore Inc.

Bing will also be the default search engine for RIM’s new
BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, while customers will still be able
to use Google, for example, if they choose to.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Washington, rose 15 cents to
$25.81 on the Nasdaq Stock Market at 4 p.m. New York time.
Google, based in Mountain View, California, declined $4.67 to
$533.89. Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM added 14 cents to $48.24.

Facebook, Angry Birds

RIM, the second-largest North American smartphone maker, is
trying to pack more features into its handsets and PlayBook to
challenge larger rival Apple Inc. (AAPL) The Bing announcement was one
of many RIM made to generate buzz for the PlayBook and a touch-
screen edition of the BlackBerry Bold it debuted at the show
yesterday.

The phone maker is looking to counter mixed reviews for the
PlayBook and a plunge in its share price after the company cut
its sales and profit forecasts last week.

RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said in his keynote speech today
that the popular game “Angry Birds” will be available on the
PlayBook soon. RIM executives demonstrated a new PlayBook app
for social-networking website Facebook and new software that
will allow BlackBerry users to use apps originally built for
Google’s Android platform.

Adobe Flash

The new Bold, which has a faster browser, is designed to
replace the current Bold and other aging models, which have lost
market share to Apple’s iPhone and devices using Android. RIM’s
forecast cut, which the company said came because new products
were taking longer to develop than originally anticipated,
triggered the stock’s biggest drop in 19 months.

Lazaridis demonstrated new publishing software by Adobe
Systems Inc. (ADBE) designed to encourage magazine developers to build
apps for the PlayBook. He also showed video from websites that
incorporate Adobe’s Flash technology. The software, used to run
video on many websites, isn’t supported on Apple’s iPad.

“We’ve done everything we can to give people the
experience they expect” and “proven to the world that you can
run Flash in a mobile browser,” Lazaridis told reporters in a
briefing after his speech.

Best Buy Checks

RIM executives also demonstrated a stand-alone e-mail
program for the PlayBook, which is planned as an upgrade this
summer. The tablet was introduced last month without built-in e-
mail, which has meant users can access their mail only by
connecting the PlayBook to the Internet through a BlackBerry
phone or by using Web-based e-mail services.

Lazaridis defended the timing of the PlayBook’s release and
said RIM was focusing on getting a device that met corporate
expectations for security into the hands of companies as soon as
possible.

“There was so much pent-up demand for widescale deployment
of tablet technology and PlayBooks in particular with enterprise
and government,” said Lazaridis. “We needed to make sure they
had something that they could deploy immediately.”

Store checks at Best Buy Co. stores indicate the PlayBook
is sold out at about 8 percent of those outlets, RBC Capital
Markets analyst Mike Abramsky said in a research note today.
North America sales are about 50,000 tablets a week, down from
100,000 the first week, said Abramsky, who is based in Toronto
and cut his rating on RIM to “sector perform” last week.

“This data may suggest that PlayBook sell-through remains
healthy but may be leveling off from its first week,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Hugo Miller in Orlando, Florida, at
hugomiller@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Peter Elstrom at
pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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