Palm Inc. and BlackBerry Maker Will Sign a Licensing Agreement


SAN FRANCISO, Oct. 16 - Palm Inc., maker of the Treo smartphone, and its rival Research In Motion, the maker of the wireless BlackBerry device, are expected to announce on Monday a licensing agreement that could alter competition in the market for phones that offer e-mail and other functions, one of the fastest-growing segments of the cellphone industry.

As part of a broad strategy to become a software company as well as a device maker, Research In Motion, or R.I.M., will allow Treos to use its e-mail and communications technology, called BlackBerry Connect.

The deal is significant because it gives Palm, a 10-year-old Silicon Valley company, a greater opportunity to sell Treos to corporations that have spent substantial sums outfitting their workers with BlackBerrys, which are still big sellers among business users.

Treo has gained momentum in the corporate market because thousands of business software programs can run on its devices. Over the last several months, some cellphone makers, like Nokia and Sony Ericsson, have also licensed BlackBerry Connect, but they have only recently started promoting that service.

For R.I.M., the deal with Palm takes the company further down the strategic path it announced more than two years ago, after it became clear that the company needed to reinvent itself if it wanted to maintain its growth rate.

While R.I.M. continues to sign up new subscribers -- in its last quarter it added 620,000 accounts, for a total of 3.65 million, its growth is starting to slow.

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Monty Solomon
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