Research In Motion Ltd.'s stock edged higher Tuesday after an announcement that the struggling Canadian smartphone company has struck a licensing agreement to use Microsoft Corp. software.
The patent deal gives RIM access to technology that will make it easier to move large files from place to place, and will likely be used on the firm’s BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which are due out in January. Alhough the company’s current crop of BlackBerrys allow better browsing and video functionality than older models, RIM is still seen as something of a multimedia laggard – especially compared to Apple Inc.’s iPhone and recent smartphones from Samsung Electronics.
In a news release, Microsoft said the file system RIM now has access to "facilitates large files for audiovisual media and enables seamless data portability and an easy interchange between desktop PCs and other electronic devices," known as Extended File Allocation Table.
RIM spokesperson Nick Manning said the deal will allow RIM’s BlackBerry devices to deal better with large media files, such as HD video, and will improve compatibility between BlackBerrys and PCs.
“There’s limitations to older file formats,” said Kevin Restivo, a mobile device analyst with global research firm IDC. “RIM is girding itself for the BlackBerry 10 launch and future BlackBerry 10 sales and it’s defending itself against any potential legal issues ... Most importantly, it allows users to more easily move around large files.”
RIM shares, which have sagged as the company lost market share to Apple Inc. and other handset makers, moved higher following the news. By the close, the shares were trading at $7.24 in Toronto, up 17 cents or 2.4 per cent. Microsoft has similar agreements with other technology companies such as Sony Corp. and Panasonic Corp.
The Waterloo, Ont.-based smartphone maker, which has lost about 95 per cent of its value from its peak has bet its comeback on its upcoming BlackBerry 10 phones – the first of which will be an all-touch device with software designed to allow users to move easily in and out of various applications.