RIM Gains Keyboard Licensees; Microsoft Loses Phone Partner

By Carmen Nobel  |  Posted 2002-11-18 Print this article Print

Research in Motion Ltd. has scored a partnership hat trick, while Microsoft Corp. has lost one of its core partners for its Smartphone 2002 platform.

Research in Motion Ltd. has scored a partnership hat trick, while Microsoft Corp. has lost one of its core partners for its Smartphone 2002 platform.

RIM, of Waterloo, Ontario, this month announced licensing deals with Palm Inc., Handspring Inc. and Nokia Corp.

Palm and Handspring, two of RIMs competitors, are licensing the companys keyboard design, for which RIM holds a patent. The keyboard can be operated with the thumbs.

In September, RIM sued Handspring, in Mountain View, Calif., claiming the keyboards on Handsprings Treo devices infringed on RIMs patents. They have reached an agreement, and RIM will withdraw its suit against Handspring.

At the same time, RIM has announced plans to license keyboard patents to Palm, in Milpitas, Calif., for use in Palms upcoming Tungsten W wireless handheld computer, which, like RIMs BlackBerry device, was designed with corporate users in mind.

Meanwhile, mobile phone vendor Nokia, in Espoo, Finland, has licensed software from RIM for use in future mobile phones. Company officials were clear that this did not mean future Nokia phones will have RIM-like keyboards.

"The licensing deal with Nokia was for software only," said Scott Pollard, a RIM spokesman.

Neither company would divulge the financial terms of the deal or discuss exact plans for the technology, but Nokia officials did confirm that the company plans to take advantage of RIMs e-mail platform.

Nokia scored licensing points of its own last week when phone manufacturer Sendo plc. announced that the company is scrapping plans for its Z100 phone, which was to be based on Microsofts Smartphone 2002 software.

Wireless Wheeling and Dealing

  • RIM Licensing keyboard design to Palm and Handspring; licensing software to Nokia
  • Nokia Licensing Series 60 software to Sendo

  • Microsoft Sendo calls off plans to use Microsofts Smartphone 2002 platform
  • Instead, Sendo has licensed Nokias Series 60 platform for smart phones. Officials said they chose Series 60 because it is "flexible" and uses industry-standard technology such as Java.

    "While our mission of providing customers with feature-rich and ubiquitous devices remains unaltered, seeing that the Series 60 fully embraces both our mission and the new strategy, we decided to approach Nokia," said Hugh Brogan, CEO of Sendo Holdings plc., of Birmingham, England, in a statement.

    The Z100 phone had been scheduled for shipment by years end in Europe and Asia.

    Although Sendo is a small company, the news is a marketing blow to Microsoft. Sendo was the first company to announce plans for Smartphone 2002, previously known as Stinger, two years ago. Microsoft took a minority stake in Sendo last year.


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