Research In Motion Ltd. has purchased a small company to help it bring multimedia features to the BlackBerry.
RIM is paying an undisclosed amount for SlipStream Data Inc., of Waterloo, Ont., whose technology compresses Internet data for more efficient transmission over phone line, broadband and wireless networks.
The deal is "intended to maintain RIM's advantages in speed and bandwidth efficiency as it moves into the multimedia space," said Mike Abramsky, an analyst with RBC Dominion Securities Inc.
RIM's existing technology for sending wireless e-mail and other data over phone companies' networks is considered more efficient and secure than rival offerings. So far the company has opted not to match Palm Inc., Nokia Corp., Motorola Inc. and other hardware competitors by adding multimedia features such as cameras and music players on any model of the BlackBerry.
But Jim Balsillie, RIM's chairman and co-chief executive officer, recently told investors and analysts that the company would start adding media players, new storage abilities and "image capture-type things" on future devices.
SlipStream was founded in 2000 by En-hui Yang and Ajit Singh, two professors in the University of Waterloo's department of electrical and computer engineering. The company employs 49 people and said it has been profitable since 2003, selling its compression technology to more than 2,000 Internet service providers around the world.
RIM, also of Waterloo, already had ties with SlipStream. RIM board member Jim Estill is an investor in SlipStream and member its board of directors.