BlackBerry Meets Google Talk

Research in Motion (RIM) announced on Thursday that its BlackBerry platform will support Google Talk instant messaging and Google Local for mobile.

Google also announced Google Mobile Personalized Home Page, while RIM said it would distribute synch software for Macs.

“Instant messaging and local content are two increasingly important areas of focus for mobile applications and we are very pleased to work with Google in extending these two popular Google services to BlackBerry users,” Mark Guibert, vice president of corporate marketing at RIM, said in a statement.

Google Talk for BlackBerry, expected to be available in the spring, is a version of Google’s instant messaging application specifically designed for BlackBerry handsets. BlackBerry users will be able to send and receive instant text messages with other Google Talk users; the BlackBerry app will have the same functionality as the desktop version.

When it launched Google Talk, the search goliath said it wanted to make its IM service, which is based on XMPP , interoperate with the other networks. Google executives weren’t available to discuss whether the creation of a special version for BlackBerry means that global interoperability of Google Talk isn’t likely.

BlackBerry users also can download Google Local, giving them access to maps, satellite imagery, driving directions and searches for local businesses.

Also on Thursday, Google expanded its mobile offerings with Google Personalized Home for mobile devices, a new service that lets users access their personalized Google homepage on mobile phones and PDAs.

The free mobile home page mirrors personalized content on registered users’ desktops, including Gmail, customized news headlines and RSS feeds. Information is optimized for the smaller screens and slower bandwidth of most mobile devices.

In a statement about bringing Google services to the BlackBerry, Deep Nishar, director of product management for Google, said it was a way to extend Google Talk and Google Local beyond the desktop.

RIM is laboring under the threat of a shut-down of its U.S. service because of a patent infringement suit brought by NTP. The NTP patents are being reexamined as the litigation continues.

Google also is being sued by RTI, which claims Google Talk violates its intellectual property rights.

Despite the looming patent suit, RIM showed a substantial increase in revenue. Revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2006, reported in December 2005, was $560.6 million, up 53 percent year-over-year, with 70 percent of revenue coming from handheld devices. RIM reported shipments of approximately 2.9 million handheld devices for the first three quarters of the year.

PocketMac for Blackberry

RIM made another interoperability announcement at the Macworld Expo conference today. Information Appliance Associates (IAA) announced that RIM will offer IAA’s
PocketMac for BlackBerry free of charge. PocketMac for BlackBerry is a desktop application that enables Mac users to synchronize data between their BlackBerry devices and Macintosh applications, including e-mail, contacts, calendar, tasks and notes. PocketMac is expected to be available as a free download from the BlackBerry Web site beginning in February.

Tim Goggins, vice president of sales and marketing for IAA, said PocketMac was first demonstrated a year ago, in RIM’s Macworld booth. He said the deal, in which RIM will license PocketMac and distribute it, shows the BlackBerry maker’s commitment to the Macintosh market.

“RIM has always been enthusiastic about The Mac market,” Goggins said, “and they supported us when we developed it. We both realized there was only so far we could go with us being a third-party vendor.”

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