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RIM, Symbian partner on cell phone e-mail

The partners plan to let people with Symbian OS-powered cell phones tap into Research In Motion's BlackBerry e-mail service--meaning they can access corporate data remotely.

Research In Motion and Symbian are working to give their customers access to e-mail on cell phone handsets.

The companies plan to announce Monday at the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) trade show a partnership to provide RIM's BlackBerry e-mail service on handsets using the Symbian operating system. The deal means that cellular service subscribers will be able to wirelessly send and receive e-mail and corporate data on Symbian phones.

By working together, the two companies increase the potential size of their markets. RIM, which already makes a combination cell phone and e-mail device, can get further into the smart-phone market by riding on the Symbian OS. For its part, Symbian can use the popular BlackBerry e-mail service as a lure to attract handset makers--which can then use the service to draw in cellular carriers and large businesses.

Although RIM's BlackBerry service and device are aimed at corporate customers, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company has been trying to broaden its market through partnerships with carriers such as Nextel Partners. At the same time, RIM is losing some of its core audience to companies such as services start-up Good Technology.

To stave off losses, the company is developing new features for its e-mail service. For example, it has created another version of its BlackBerry server software that will eventually allow subscribers to remotely synchronize information on its wireless devices with data on a corporate computer network.

U.K.-based Symbian has also been trying to expand the reach of its audience. Despite being owned by device makers Ericsson, Matsushita, Motorola, Nokia, Psion, Samsung, Siemens and Sony Ericsson, the software maker has not claimed much ground in the market for smart phone operating systems, where it competes with Microsoft.

In another announcement set for Monday at the CTIA in New Orleans, RIM will launch its BlackBerry Connect licensing program, which allows mobile device makers to provide secure access to wireless data on their handsets. Symbian will participate in the program.