IBM Global Services and Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM announced a partnership in which RIM enterprise customers can turn to IBM to develop, host and integrate custom wireless applications for RIM's popular BlackBerry devices. The companies described the news as a "collaboration" and would not assign financial terms to the announcement.
The partnership is nonexclusive; an IBM representative said, "We're a recommended partner to RIM's customers and vice versa."
Another part of the agreement is that 6,500 of IBM's 15,000 field engineers will use BlackBerry 857 devices based on Motient's wireless network.
"RIM only sells to the enterprise, so IBM is a good partner for them to sign up," said IDC analyst Kevin Burden. "At the same time, IBM doesn't have much of a foothold in the handheld market, so attaching themselves to one of the more popular devices helps them as they try to understand what their customers want from these portable devices."
After an announcement that RIM's BlackBerry pagers were compatible with IBM's Lotus Notes e-mail program, Reuters reported that RIM and IBM were on the cusp of a full-scale distribution agreement. However, that announcement has not been made, and both companies declined to comment.