Mary Jo Foley confirmed with Microsoft that BlackBerry Office 365, which will be available in late 2011, is replacing Microsoft's existing BES hosting service. Microsoft stated in a blog post that the hosted BES service will be free for new Exchange Online customers, but didn't specify what would happen to existing customers.
Jim Tobin, RIM's senior vice-president for software and business services, told Reuters that RIM does not plan to open BES platform to non-BlackBerry devices such as iPhones. "That doesn't close the door to later bridging out into other things, but it's not the right focus for us right now," Tobin said.
Although Microsoft and RIM are in competition, the two companies have an important partnership. Microsoft's hosted services are in competition with Google Apps, and Redmond needs to offer value-added services. RIM, meanwhile, is challenged by consumer devices such as iPhones and Android phones arriving in the enterprise. Android and iOS devices can already sync with Exchange via ActiveSync.
RIM has also begun to roll out many of its enterprise features to consumers, demonstrating that the consumerization of IT flows both ways.