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RIM Buys Cellmania to Boost BlackBerry App World?

Canada’s Research in Motion has acquired Cellmania, a California-based company that developers content tracking and management systems for mobile devices, as well as services that provide for subscription-based billing for mobile apps and content. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“Our team has joined RIM’s global organization and will continue to bring our expertise in application storefront development to the BlackBerry platform,” Cellmania said on its Web site.

Cellmania runs mFinder, which essentially functions as a directory for mobile Internet applications and content. Cellmania has partnered with mobile operators in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and selected European countries, and pushes content to mobile subscribers through its mobile operator partners; billing for the content is handled through the operator, rather than with Cellmania as a separate entity. Cellmania’s mFinder supports J2ME, Symbian, and Android devices, and is used to push everything from ringtones and wallpaper to graphics and video; the service offers real-time transaction reports and digital rights management. Cellmania has said it intends to continue to support its existing customers.

Industry watchers expect RIM’s primary interest in Cellmania is as a platform to quickly build operator-based billing and DRM into its BlackBerry App World so it can better compete with the likes of the iTunes App Store and Android Market. RIM recently launched a revised version of BlackBerry App World, and reports have the company looking to acquire a mobile ad network, following the path of Google’s high-profile acquisition of AdMob in November 2009, and Apple’s subsequent acquisition of Quattro Wireless in early 2010 and development of its own iAds platform.

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