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BlackBerry bringing Bing onboard after surprise Steve Ballmer appearance

Steve Ballmer surprised everyone at BlackBerry World by announcing a deal that will see Bing slapped on every BlackBerry devices by the end of the year.

BlackBerry mobile devices will in future have the Bing search engine as default, its makers RIM have announced. An apparently surprise visit to the BlackBerry World conference by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer publicly sealed the deal.

So are Google's days of dominance in desktop and mobile search fading fast? Although savvy users will still be able to choose which search provider they use, Ballmer said Bing would be "deeply integrated" into BlackBerry devices.

Previously, Apple severed its exclusive, though unwritten, search relationship with Google by allowing users to change which search engine its mobile Safari browser uses, though it still defaults to Google.

Users who don't really care where their results come from -- as long as they're accurate -- probably won't notice much difference. Bing has maps, news, image and video search, and you can save your search history. For most people it's just a big 'b' instead of a big 'g'.

If you don't like Microsoft, or have an aversion to Bing (which, in our opinion, should be reserved for the sound the microwave makes after it's nuked your ready meal) you simply change the settings.

The update is expected to roll out across phones from this Christmas. Given the impromptu nature of the announcement, the finer detail isn't yet clear. Will existing BlackBerry devices be Bingified with software updates? It seems likely -- both companies have a vested interest in closing the gap on Google.