Research in Motion continued its push into the consumer market May 12, announcing an alliance with Microsoft to offer Windows Live Hotmail and Messenger on all BlackBerry smartphones.
Users will be able to access their accounts from their smartphones by entering their Windows Live e-mail address and password once. RIM said the service would be available this summer.
Live Hotmail users will also be able to use the BlackBerry "push" technology for automatic message delivery and message synchronization so that a customer's online account is up-to-date with actions taken on their BlackBerry. In addition, users will have the option of receiving their Live Hotmail messages, along with messages from other e-mail accounts, into a single inbox.
Messenger users will be offered a full range of peer-to-peer messaging, including the ability to save messages, customize status messages, use avatars and the use of more than 60 emoticons.
"Over 430 million people around the world rely on Windows Live to stay in touch," Brian Arbogast, Microsoft's vice president of Mobile Services organization, said in a statement. "Our collaboration with RIM will enable BlackBerry smartphone customers to take full advantage of Windows Live, whether at work or on the go."
The deal with Microsoft comes as RIM opens a busy week at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando, Fla. RIM set the ball rolling early May 12 by introducing the BlackBerry Bold, a high-end version of the BlackBerry aimed at both its core base of business users and consumers.
The BlackBerry Bold is the first RIM smartphone to support high-speed HSDPA cellular networks. It also comes loaded with integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and a host of multimedia features. In an interview with Reuters, RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said he wouldn't be surprised "if it gets picked up by the consumer."
RIM President and C-CEO Mike Lazaridis said in a statement that "the new BlackBerry Bold represents a tremendous step forward in business-grade smartphones and lives up to its name with incredible speed, power and functionality, all wrapped in a beautiful and confident design."