BlackBerry drops Google as preferred search service, Android apps from new OS

by Phil Hornshaw

Microsoft (MSFT) and Research In Motion (RIMM) have reached an agreement to use Microsoft’s Bing search engine on RIM’s BlackBerry devices, ditching Google’s (GOOG) search in the process.

Bing will now be responsible for search and mapping functions on BlackBerrys, according to an address given by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer at BlackBerry World this week. Pocket Gamer reports, “the link-up goes beyond the token, too, with the two parties stating Bing will be deeply integrated into the OS in a manner that appears similar to the functionality served up on Windows Phone 7.”

The integration of Bing with BlackBerry is due to hit by Christmas, although it’s not clear if the maps capability -- which Microsoft now has access to because of its relationship with Nokia (NOK) -- will be a direct port of Nokia’s Navteq application or something else.

What’s interesting about RIM partnering with Microsoft over Google is that BlackBerry seemed to be going with Android as it moved into the future. RIM’s new BlackBerry tablet, the PlayBook, has an option to use an Android-emulating “app player” to run Android apps as well as RIM’s BlackBerry apps, giving the tab versatility but also acknowledging what a powerhouse Android has been in the mobile market in the last two years.

But it seems what RIM did with the PlayBook is not typical, and in fact, may not even be repeated in the near future. According to a story from Fierce Mobile Content, RIM’s latest BlackBerry operating system update, BlackBerry 7, won’t be spreading the Android app love to any other devices.

RIM just announced BlackBerry 7, along with two new phones, at BlackBerry World. It also dropped support for Adobe (ADBE) Flash and instead opted to use the QNX operating system to support any Flash content in devices’ web browsers. And BlackBerry 7 will support near-field communication technology, bringing RIM up to speed with Google and ahead of Apple (AAPL) in that respect.

But it appears that if RIM was thinking about joining up with Android to try to change its waning mobile fortunes, it has decided against that course. Like Nokia before it, RIM appears to be looking in the direction of Microsoft, whose Windows Phone 7 OS lags behind all competitors, but which is making strides forward every quarter.

Whatever RIM’s plans for the future, abdicating its position to Android (which some people speculated when it announced Android apps on the PlayBook) does not seem to be in its current plans. And it appears that Microsoft’s plan going forward is to band together with the little guys in an attempt to take on Google and Apple’s juggernauts.