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Research in Motion today put in place a pair of partnerships to boost the use of instant messaging on its Blackberry platform. The Canadian company signed deals with Yahoo! and AOL to bring their respective IM clients to the Blackberry.

The mobile email specialist has also inked a deal to incorporate its software on future handsets from Taiwanese Windows Mobile-based smart phone developer HTC.

In addition to AIM support, RIM said it will also bring AOL ICQ services to Blackberry, and improve links between the platform's email system and AOL Mail.

RIM already has a partnership with Yahoo! to deliver optimised content to the Blackberry. That's now extended to Yahoo! Messenger which, like AOL Instant Messenger, will appear on the Blackberry fully-branded. RIM said it will also enhance its support for Yahoo! Mail too, soon.

The agreements strengthen Blackberry's repertoire of communications media, particularly as IM becomes more commonplace among business users as well as consumers, and could accelerate IM's usage in the mobile communications arena as an alternative to SMS, one with better support for other, non-mobile devices too.

Usage of either IM client will be conditional on the backing of the networks, as will pricing. AIM will only be available through "AOL authorised" networks, for example; RIM and Yahoo! said they would both work to help carriers bring YM services to customers. YM will be pre-installed on Blackberry devices "in the coming months", RIM said.

Separately, RIM said HTC will bundle Blackberry Connect on the handset maker's devices, in particular those with integrated keyboards, the currently shipping 'Blue Angel' and the upcoming 'Universal'. However, HTC said the deal will "quickly expand" to its other Windows Mobile smart phones too.

Blackberry Connect delivers the Blackberry handheld's push email and PIM services on other devices. Making such services accessible to non-Blackberry owners is a tricky strategy for RIM, given that more than 70 per cent of its revenues come from hardware sales. Siemens recently began shipping its SK65 handset which relies on Blackberry Connect. ®

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