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Good Technology, Dell to announce tie-up

The companies aren't disclosing details, but among the possibilities are Dell selling Good's gear and service or using Good's technology in its own wireless handhelds.

Dell Computer and wireless start-up Good Technology are set to unveil a tie-up next week, but the companies did not disclose the details of the partnership.

In an invitation sent to journalists for an event next Tuesday, the two companies promised an "important news announcement" and said that "April 29 is going to be a very big day."

Among the possibilities is the notion that Dell might resell Good's devices and services, which compete with those from Research in Motion. Dell could also be incorporating Good's technology into wireless gear of its own or putting the Dell brand on Good's devices.

Since 1999, Dell has been selling RIM's wireless BlackBerry e-mail device, and Chief Executive Michael Dell is one of many high-profile executives known to sport one.

The BlackBerry is not available on Dell's main site, though it has been in the past. A Dell representative said that the device is still available to those large corporate customers who use a customized service from Dell known as "premier pages." The representative said the company will continue to offer "the (BlackBerry) service to customers who want it."

The Dell representative declined to comment on next week's announcement, as did a Good representative.

The press conference will be at the Menlo Park, Calif., offices of venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which is a major investor in Good Technology.

Like RIM, Good has software and services that allow workers to get their e-mail and other corporate information on their wireless devices.

"It's a huge blow to RIM if Dell endorses Good's technology," said Brian Blair, an analyst at hedge fund Bluewater Capital. Blair added that if RIM were to lose Dell as a reseller, it could not only hurt RIM's sales to businesses, but also potentially deprive it of a good way to reach the consumer market.

"Even though RIM is not (in the consumer market) yet, it's a potential loss," Blair said.

The impact in RIM of losing Dell as a distribution channel may be limited, said Jason Tsai an analyst with equity research firm ThinkEquity Partners.

"In the some three years that Dell has been a reseller of RIM devices, they have only sold, I would estimate, somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 to 70,000 units," he said.

Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Good has been striking deals with partners to make its software compatible with various operating systems and messaging products, and to broaden the number of devices on which its service is available. The company has been working with PalmSource to make its software compatible with the Palm OS. It has also been working with Microsoft to make its software compatible with Exchange Server software.

Good's software is expected to be running on a Palm OS-based device by the middle of the year.

Good and RIM have been embroiled in a series of lawsuits over patent infringement, copyright and trademark infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract and other actions.