The two top competitors in the PDA market, Research In Motion Ltd. and Palm Inc., are partnering to extend RIM's BlackBerry E-mail service to Palm's Treo 650 smartphone, the companies announced today. The deal should give their business customers more choices regarding device deployment.
The deal means that Treo 650 and future Palm OS-based Treo smartphones will be able to connect to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which supports Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes. Other capabilities include "push" E-mail that combines the BlackBerry service and Palm's VersaMail E-mail client, wireless calendar synchronization, remote address lookup of corporate E-mail directories, E-mail attachment viewing, and security features like encryption, policy enforcement, and commands.
"Treo customers will benefit from the security, manageability, performance, and scalability of the BlackBerry wireless platform and BlackBerry customers will be able to leverage their investment in the BlackBerry architecture with a broader choice of devices," says Mark Guibert, RIM's VP of corporate marketing.
Palm has been trying to make the Treo an open E-mail platform for businesses and individual users, says Joe Fabris, director of wireless marketing at Palm. The company has partnerships with other mobile E-mail providers, including Intellisync, Seven Networks, Good Technology, Visto, and Microsoft. By adding RIM to the list, Palm will have access to 50,000 additional severs that can talk to the Treo. "Just name the server, the Treo connects to it," Fabris says.
RIM and Palm will still compete for mobile-device market share. But their partnership changes the way they work together to bring mobile E-mail services to more businesses. Those businesses that have already deployed or are planning to deploy the BlackBerry Enterprise Server can now choose between BlackBerry and Treo devices, instead of being limited to the BlackBerry.
Through its BlackBerry Connect program, RIM has struck licensing agreements with leading hardware manufacturers globally including HTC, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, Siemens, Sony Ericsson, and now Palm.
The companies expect to start rolling out the BlackBerry Connect service on the Treo 650 in early 2006. The carriers will issue separate announcements on when they plan to bring the service to market, after they have completed certification and testing.