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RIM unruffled over Nokia's Intellisync buy

Research In Motion co-chief Jim Balsillie says Nokia's still committed to offering RIM's e-mail service over its devices.

Research In Motion is not interested in topping Nokia's $430 million bid for wireless e-mail company Intellisync, RIM co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said Wednesday.

Balsillie, whose company makes the popular BlackBerry wireless e-mail device, said he is not worried about any direct competition from Nokia as a result of the acquisition, even though San Jose, Calif.-based Intellisync develops wireless messaging and e-mail technology.

Finland-based Nokia is committed to offering RIM's e-mail service over its devices through RIM's BlackBerry Connect program, Balsillie said during the UBS Global Communications conference in New York.

Nokia and RIM both offer a messaging and wireless solution as well as handsets to be used with the service. Other companies, such as Microsoft, Palm and Motorola, also are targeting this market with their own wireless e-mail products.

Despite Balsillie's cool stance, analysts said Nokia's purchase of Intellisync is a shot across the bow primarily aimed at RIM.

"Even though Nokia has licensed the Blackberry Connect software from RIM to make the new devices compatible with the Blackberry Enterprise Server--approximately 60,000 installed worldwide--it nevertheless doesn't provide Nokia the real revenue opportunity that a server software sale would," said Jack Gold, founder and industry analyst at J.Gold Associates.

The effect of the acquisition on Microsoft is somewhat more subdued, he added.

"Nokia has licensed ActiveSync to embed in some Microsoft devices to enable push e-mail directly from Exchange without the need for a middleware product," Gold said. "However, this functionality only works for the most current version of Exchange, which is still a small amount of the total installs of Exchange servers."

A Microsoft representative was not immediately available to comment.

But in a world where carriers can literally mix and match mobile hardware and software, Gartner analyst Michael King wonders if RIM will be able to respond as competitively.

"Long term, you could very likely see a Nokia device with a RIM base client but with an Intellisync e-mail or a Microsoft device with Intellisync device management and an RIM e-mail client," King said.

Balsillie also reiterated that RIM's customers can be reassured "that there won't be an interruption of service" if a court issues an injunction to shut down its service in the United States as part its legal battle with NTP.

The co-CEO said that RIM has a " workaround" it believes will skirt the NTP patents at the center of the court case.

He said RIM has not implemented the workaround sooner because it has just been completed. He added that the company has been extra conservative in ensuring that it does not infringe on any of NTP's patents.

"It's a software upgrade that we're very, very comfortable with and we've done focus groups with and we're just finishing testing," Balsillie told investors in New York.

Balsillie declined to comment on whether the proposed "workaround" and recent U.S. Patent Office rulings have made RIM less likely to settle with NTP.

Reuters contributed to this report.