Google Comes Unstrung

The news today that Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is partnering with BlackBerry to provide two Google services on Blackberries -- Google Talk instant messaging and Google Local, which provides maps, satellite imagery, and driving directions -- looks like a natural brand extension for both companies. Google gets real estate on the popular mobile-email devices and RIM becomes one of the many companies hoisting the Google Everywhere movement.

If I were a RIM executive, though, I wouldn't be resting too comfortably on my laurels right now. The Canada-wide daily National Post reported last week that Google made a stealth acquisition last summer of a small wireless company called Reqwireless. This is interesting for two reasons: 1) Reqwireless makes Web browser and email software for wireless devices (sound familiar?); and 2) it's based in Waterloo, Ontario -- the home of Research in Motion.

This resembles a classic Microsoft strategy from the 1990s: partner with a company in a given computing space, then make key acquisitions to beat the partner at its own game. I'm not saying that's what Google is doing here; I doubt the search giant will ever go into the handheld PDA business. But still...

When I asked Google to confirm the National Post story, here's the statement the company's PR department sent me, in its entirety: "We acquired Reqwireless because of the talented engineers and great technology. We're thrilled to have them here."

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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