RIM Loops in Scoreloop

TORONTO, June 8 (Reuters) – BlackBerry maker Research In Motion bought social gaming company Scoreloop to help expand its Messenger application, challenged by this week’s launch of a similar instant messaging offering from Apple.

Munich-based Scoreloop adds social elements, such as interactive play and social network integration, to existing mobile games. It can also enable in-app purchases and virtual currencies to help developers make money.

“As part of RIM, we’ll be in the unique position to integrate deeply into BlackBerry platforms to take mobile gaming to the next level together,” Marc Gumpinger, Scoreloop’s chief executive, said on the company’s website.

Scoreloop, headquartered in Munich, Germany, will continue to support Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android, Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 and Samsung’s bada, Gumpinder said. Its backers include Target Partners and Earlybird Venture Capital.

The company, which said in January it was adding one million users a week, did not support the BlackBerry platform prior to the acquisition. Financial terms were not disclosed.

RIM said Scoreloop will help it “provide tools that will further enable our developer community to take gaming to a new level of social integration on the BlackBerry platform.”

RIM has sought to extend the usefulness of BlackBerry Messenger, popularly known as BBM, by allowing independent developers to integrate it into their applications.

But RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky said RIM had executed slowly. While RIM has long talked about using its network infrastructure as a platform for services, Apple’s iCloud — which will synchronize media, content, documents, and user information from a massive data center in North Carolina — has started to deliver some of these services ahead of RIM.

BBM allows any two BlackBerry users with data plans to instantly pass messages without incurring charges from their network carrier.

In a wide-ranging product announcement headlined by Chief Executive Steve Jobs on Monday, Apple said its iMessage application, available in the next version of its iOS software, would enable instant messaging between iPhones, iPads and high-end iPods.

(Reporting by Alastair Sharp; editing by Rob Wilson)