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Sat, Jan 14, 2006 - Page 12 News List

BlackBerry mobile devices will support Google programs


BlackBerry e-mail devices will soon support the Google Talk instant-messaging and Google Local mapping programs, the handheld maker said on Thursday, extending the Internet titan's push to put its services on mobile devices.

Financial details for the deal between Canada-based BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd (RIM) and Google Inc were not disclosed.

Google Talk, due for launch before midyear, will not be the only instant-messaging service available on a BlackBerry. RIM itself offers BlackBerry Messenger for users of the device to chat and certain carriers also offer some rival services. T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, offers the AIM and ICQ services from the America Online unit of Time Warner Inc on BlackBerry devices, as well as Yahoo Messenger from Yahoo Inc.

The BlackBerry version of the popular Google Local service will let users view maps and satellite images, find local businesses and get driving directions on their handsets. The Google Talk service requires a Gmail e-mail account. Both applications will be free, subject to any data-service charges from the wireless service provider.

Last week, Motorola Inc said it will soon begin selling Web-enabled cell phones that feature easy access to Google's search engine by clicking on a button on the phone's keypad. Google is also the default search engine on Palm Inc's new Treo 700w smartphone.

Research in Motion also said on Thursday it will offer for the first time a Macintosh-based e-mail and calendar application for its BlackBerry handheld devices.

RIM has signed a licensing deal with Information Appliance Associates to offer free downloads of the PocketMac program for BlackBerries and to later integrate the software with the handhelds, officials with the companies said.

The move deepens RIM's rivalry against Palm Inc, which for years has provided synchronization software for users of Apple Computer Inc's Mac computers with its line of handhelds and Treo smartphones. The Mac OS X operating system even includes a free program called iSync that lets users synch their address and calendar information from their Macs to Palm handhelds.

By comparison, BlackBerry users with Macs had to resort to third-party providers. For instance, they would have to find PocketMac, a program for synching e-mail, contacts and calendar information from a desktop to handhelds, on their own and pay US$29.95 to get the program installed.

Now with the licensing agreement, Mac users will be able to get the PocketMac program directly from RIM -- for free, starting next month.

For Apple, the deal reflects its growing influence and could lead to more interest from corporate customers, which predominantly operate in Microsoft Corp's Windows-based environment. Business users constitute RIM's core market.

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