Apple and Google may have a commanding lead in the mobile device market, but their closest competitors came together this week to negotiate a potentially significant licensing agreement. By providing Research In Motion with access to its proprietary file storage technologies, Microsoft may have given the struggling Canadian manufacturer reason for hope.
Microsoft's Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT) system optimizes files for use with the flash storage methods largely preferred by today's mobile hardware manufacturers. Engineers believe their breakthrough will facilitate the seamless transfer of even the largest audiovisual files between PC, smartphone and tablet platforms.
Although the terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, it is widely speculated that the exFAT technologies will be incorporated into the BlackBerry 10 operating system that RIM has pushed back to an early 2013 launch date. Although investors were disappointed by the revised timetable at the time of its announcement, the new patent licensing deal could provide the company with an intriguing competitive advantage that neither Apple nor Google have a direct answer to.
"This is potentially money out of RIM's coffers for the right to use the exFAT patent in its technology," IDC mobile device analyst Kevin Restivo told reporters. "But what it does for investors and others is provide a glimpse into what the BlackBerry 10 devices can do."
According to MarketWatch, RIM's stock price jumped 2 percent in the hours immediately following Microsoft's announcement.