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Sony Ericsson picks BlackBerry e-mail for phones

Research In Motion will deliver its BlackBerry e-mail service to new Sony Ericsson phones, a boost to its drive to sign up support from handset makers.

Research In Motion will deliver its BlackBerry e-mail service to new Sony Ericsson phones, a boost to its drive to sign up support from handset makers.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company announced on Monday that its BlackBerry communications service will become available for Sony Ericsson phones later this year, starting with the P900 model. The plans were unveiled at the 3GSM World Congress 2004 conference, which takes place this week in Cannes, France.

Large businesses are the target market for RIM's BlackBerry messaging service, which essentially forwards e-mail from a desktop to a mobile device and synchronizes changes between the two. The company charges customers on a per-device basis and also sells server software for Microsoft Exchange e-mail systems.

RIM is trying to increase the number of devices that can use the service, and the deal with Sony Ericsson is part of its efforts to sign up handset makers. It has made similar agreements with Nokia and Samsung.

"Success for RIM is getting BlackBerry into a broad range of devices," said Alex Slawsby, an analyst with research firm IDC.

Sony Ericsson is a joint venture established in 2001 by Ericsson and Sony. The company held the No. 6 market share position for handsets in 2003, according to IDC.

The company has been working with operating system developers--such as PalmSource, Symbian and Microsoft--to get its BlackBerry service adopted by their licensees. The Sony Ericsson P900 phone (the first covered by Monday's deal) is based on the Symbian OS.

RIM said recently that its service had exceeded the one-million subscriber mark.

However, the company is still fighting a legal battle with holding company NTP, which won a ruling in a patent-infringement case against RIM earlier this year. The case is now under appeal by RIM.

The lawsuit has not stopped RIM from raising nearly $1 billion in a public offering. The IPO proceeds are earmarked for general corporate expenses--such as research and development, expansion of manufacturing capacities, expansion of global sales and marketing--and for working capital. RIM said it may also use the money for acquisitions of or investment in technologies, products or businesses it deems complementary to its products, but it does not have any agreements or commitments in place.