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SAP to Customize Business Software for Blackberry

By Reuters - Print this article Print

RIM and SAP plan to get the BlackBerry more in line with critical business applications.

BOSTON, May 2 (Reuters) - Research in Motion Ltd (RIM.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) is working with SAP AG (SAPG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) to develop sales management software and other business programs for the Blackberry, seeking to expand the device beyond an e-mail and phone service.

The first programs are designed to help companies send sales leads to their staff in real time, then provide tools to let employees follow up on them, the two companies said on Friday. The software will be available within several weeks.

SAP, the biggest maker of business management software, designed the customer relationship management (CRM) system and RIM engineers developed tools that allow it to be fully integrated with the BlackBerry's own e-mail system, contact database and other programs.

RIM's BlackBerry competes with Palm Inc's (PALM.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Treo and smart phones using Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) software. Its newest rival, Apple Inc.'s (AAPL.O: Quote, Profile, Research) iPhone, is gradually gaining traction among business users.

Many companies, including SAP, already tweak their business programs to run on mobile devices, but RIM Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie said that such software has never been so tightly integrated with the BlackBerry device and network.

"Literally a person can do their work on BlackBerry without having to go back and forth between a laptop and a BlackBerry," he said during a conference call with media.

Canaccord Adams analyst Peter Misek said that ability gives RIM an opportunity to leverage its large market share and "a huge competitive advantage" over rivals.

Besides the customer relationship management software, RIM also plans to work with Blackberry to develop a wide variety of programs for the platform.

"They are early to the game. No one else does this in the wireless market," Misek said. This expands their market, he said, giving them an opportunity to help deliver business management software.

RIM also left the door open for developing similar products with other software makers.

"Doing exclusivity doesn't help either company because all it does is limit the benefits to customers," Balsillie said. (Additional reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; Editing by Brian Moss)

This article was originally published on 2008-05-02
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