Ina Fried

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Research in Motion Taps Microsoft’s Bing to Power BlackBerry Search and Mapping

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was Tuesday’s surprise guest at BlackBerry World, showing up to help announce a partnership between Redmond and Research In Motion that will see Bing play a prominent role on future BlackBerry Devices.

Bing will become the preferred search option within the BlackBerry’s browser and the Bing app will be the default search and mapping program from RIM, though carriers are able to change that based on their own search deals. Bing will also get a prominent spot within RIM’s BlackBerry App World storefront and be the default search experience and mapping app on the PlayBook tablet.

“We are excited to be working with RIM, an early leader in Internet-connected mobile devices, to help people make better decisions with Bing,” Microsoft’s Matt Dahlin said in a blog post.

Not spelled out in the blog post is just how much Microsoft is paying for this privilege. A Microsoft representative declined to comment as well on the financial terms of the deal.

IDC Al Hilwa said that the deal could open the door to an even closer partnership for the two companies down the road, pointing to the Microsoft-Nokia partnership.

“The Microsoft deal is really interesting, not just for what was announced, but for what it says about how the mobile wars will bring strange bedfellows together,” Hilwa said in an e-mail on Tuesday. “We saw that in the Nokia arrangement, and we may begin to see more work between Microsoft and RIM around the mobility. Microsoft’s partnership with RIM around Bing is a showcase of the new age of disruptive change in platforms. It is legitimate to ask what is next here as the two get more cozy with each other.”

The news is the latest to come from RIM’s annual conference in Orlando. On Monday, the company announced plans to release two touchscreen Bold models this summer as well as a move to expand its flagship server product to manage Apple and Android phones, in addition to RIM’s own BlackBerry devices.