RIM Buys Gist for Better BlackBerry Contact Management

Research In Motion Feb. 14 confirmed it has acquired contact management provider Gist for an undisclosed sum. The buy will help RIM boost its BlackBerry handset software.

Research In Motion Feb. 14 said it has acquired Gist to help improve contact management on its popular BlackBerry smartphones.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Gist launched in 2008 as a free Web application that managed personal and professional contacts from Microsoft Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Salesforce.com, among other sources.

Specifically, Gist aggregates the network information in users' e-mail inboxes, analyzes the contacts, then ranks and prioritizes the importance of contacts based on the frequency and timing of messaging interaction with the Gist user. Gist's goal is to help users cut through the clutter of contacts scattered across their Web services.

Even as Gist expanded its client coverage to include Facebook activity streams, it became clear the company's technology clearly lent itself to being integrated into a full messaging client, part of a trend toward social aggregation of e-mail inboxes kicked off by Xobni and others.

Now, it looks as though Gist will do this for RIM's BlackBerry handsets.

"We're excited that the Gist team is joining RIM and bringing their expertise in providing customers with a contextualized, streamlined and consolidated view of information about their contacts to the BlackBerry platform," said Alan Brenner, senior vice president of BlackBerry Platform at RIM, in a brief blog post.

RIM can certainly use the shot of mobile messaging chops, as the company's newer phones lacked some of the sophisticated social tools offered by apps on Apple's iPhone and Google's Android handsets.

While still the leading U.S. smartphone maker, RIM suffered a tough 2010 in which the iPhone and Android smartphones captured more than 50 percent of the smartphone sales in the country.

"We are extremely excited about our future at RIM and how Gist will be used by millions of BlackBerry users around the globe," Gist added in its own blog post.

Gist said users will be able to continue using its contact management service for the time being.

GigaOm first reported RIM was closing on Gist last December.