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RIM Buys Software Developer, Releases New Server

Posted by iNext - 2006-03-16

Research In Motion Ltd. said on Friday that it has acquired a privately held software firm and released an updated version of its corporate server, giving it new tools to more tightly connect its BlackBerry to corporate phone and data services.

RIM, which makes the popular BlackBerry e-mail and mobile phone device, did not disclose financial details of its purchase of Ascendent Systems.

San Jose, California-based Ascendent, which will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of RIM, makes software that extends the features from a traditional corporate desk phone to mobile devices.

Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM, which last week agreed to pay $612.5 million to U.S.-based NTP Inc. to settle a marathon patent dispute, also said its BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 is now available.

The server can link BlackBerry devices with real-time communication, or instant messaging, and Web services tools, such as corporate Intranet applications.

"This is a CIO's (chief information officer's) dream to have this all integrated in one solution that you've already paid for," co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie told Reuters.

"We don't know anyone else who's within a country mile of supporting anything like this."

The new tools will help drive sales, he added.

Ascendent, whose partners include Cisco, Microsoft and Telus, struck an alliance with RIM in October 2005 to jointly engage in "tactical" and marketing initiatives.

Ascendant's technology will allow BlackBerry devices to take on the features of a business phone, or so-called private branch exchange (PBX), said Balsillie.

"So when someone dials your extension, your BlackBerry rings, you can do transfers to somebody internal, you can do ad hoc teleconferencing," he said.

The technology also interfaces, or connects, between new communications systems that use Internet protocol technology and older systems which do not.

"Virtually all corporate environments are grappling with this integration issue of systems. It's a big, big issue in tech and telecom today," Balsillie said.

"A huge proportion of our corporate clients -- we've got 60,000 installations out there -- and they're all trying to figure out how they integrate, thoughtfully, to all these VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) and PBX systems."

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