Waterloo’s Research In Motion has signed a patent licensing agreement with Microsoft, which means that RIM will be able to use Microsoft’s latest file system technology on its smartphone devices.
The agreement specifically gives RIM access to Microsoft’s most recent incarnation of Extended File Allocation Table technology, which aids in the handling of larger files. Because file sizes are growing for consumers with more data-intensive smartphones, handling those files without losing speed becomes important. Microsoft’s system expands the size of files that devices with flash memory can handle and boosts the speed of accessing said files.
“Today’s smartphones and tablets require the capacity to display richer images and data than traditional cellular phones,” said David Kaefer, general manager of intellectual property licensing at Microsoft. ”This agreement with RIM highlights how a modern file system, such as exFAT can help directly address the specific needs of customers in the mobile industry.”
Upon news of the deal, shares of RIM rose 2.4 percent.
The deal gives some insight into what BlackBerry 10 devices will be able to do. With those out in January, RIM’s deal with Microsoft reveals that they may have capabilities that will improve on their usability.
“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 has an awful lot riding on the release of its BlackBerry 10 devices, so any help they can get in launching and ensuring the workability of the devices is welcome. The Microsoft deal should help to that end and it should also, as mentioned, prevent any patent snafus from emerging in the coming weeks. RIM has its work cut out for it, with Apple and Android splitting roughly 85 percent of the global market.
Expectations are almost impossibly high for BlackBerry 10 and any misstep could cost the company dearly. It is already teetering, having lost about 95 percent of its value from its glory days, and trouble with the already-delayed BlackBerry 10 could spell the end.
Microsoft already has similar agreements with other companies, including Sony and Panasonic.