Seeing Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer take the stage at Research in Motion's Blackberry World conference in Orlando. A new partnership between once fierce rivals, which calls for Microsoft's Bing Search and Bing Maps to be built into the operating system of future RIM devices, would have seemed unfathomable just a few years ago.
An Unusual Strategy for Microsoft
For years, the Microsoft has competed fiercely against companies, only to embrace them when their fortunes sag. The list is long. Microsoft made peace with America Online, a one-time competitor in Internet access that also bought browser rival Netscape. It settled with RealNetworks, with which it once did battle in the emerging digital media business. It famously courted Yahoo, eventually striking a deal in which Yahoo replaced its own search engine on its own site with Microsoft's technology.
And just this year, Nokia agreed to use Microsoft's Windows Phone mobile operating system instead of its own Symbian software.
Research in Motion is losing share
RIM has been losing share in the smartphone market in recent years to both Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems. There's no doubt the company hopes the new deal with Microsoft will help staunch those losses. And Microsoft would like nothing more than for Bing to emerge as the leader in mobile search. But the history of these deals doesn't offer either company a lot of hope.