RIM partner with Microsoft for Bing services

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Microsoft's Steve Ballmer appeared on stage at RIM's BlackBerry World to announce a partnership between the two companies to bring Bing services to Blackberry devices. Bing Search will be deeply integrated into the platform and Bing Maps will become the default mapping service. In part, this will make BlackBerry device a de facto part of the Microsoft-Nokia location services ecosystem. 

While on stage, Ballmer demonstrated a Bing application that had a Metro (Windows Phone) like UI. The application is similiar to that provided for the Android and iPhone platforms, combining a number of Bing services, the most important of which are search and maps.

The mapping and related metadata for Bing Maps comes from the data sets of Nokia's NAVTEQ division. This goes significantly beyond the 'raw' maps and point of information data. For example, Bing Maps on BlackBerry includes Streetside view, which offers a photo-based street level view, similar to Google's Street View imagery. The data for Streetside is collected by NAVTEQ, with the most recent data sets collected by the NAVTEQ True cars

Microsoft and Nokia recently noted that Nokia would be working to deliver to deliver mapping, navigation and location services to the Windows Phone ecosystem, drawing on the Ovi Maps and NAVTEQ assets, as part of the strategic alliance between the two companies. The exact details of the extent to which and how Nokia and Microsoft's various location services and map offerings might be combined has not yet been made public.

Currently both Microsoft and Nokia offer mobile applications (Ovi Maps, Bing Maps), API services (Bing Maps API, Ovi Maps API), web maps (Bing Maps, Ovi Maps) and related services. However it is the NAVTEQ geodatabases and associated technologies that are the most important strategic asset and which will be the key enabling technology, regardless of branding or the services built on top.

Today's announcement gives Microsoft's Bing services a helpful push into the mobile space. However, it will also provide additional momentum to the search and mapping services of Nokia and Microsoft's proposed third mobile ecosystem. Microsoft's search and Nokia/Microsoft-based location services will be the default on both RIM and Nokia (and other Windows Phone) devices in 2012; collectively, this represents more than 40% share of the smartphone market. Google is a clear competitive target here, and the potential situation in the mobile space in the next few years constrasts strongly with the current web space, where Google is the dominant search and, to a lesser extent, maps player.