Will RIM buy social data aggregator Gist to strengthen its hold on enterprise market?

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Research in Motion, the maker of the popular BlackBerry business smartphone, is in talks to pick up social data aggregator Gist to maintain its stranglehold on the enterprise smartphone market, according to a report by GigaOm.

Gist takes email contacts and scours the web for other types of information about them, using anything from news feeds to LinkedIn pages to build a better contact profile. The company claims it’s built profiles for around 100 million people now.

Right now the service integrates with Gmail and Microsoft’s Outlook by adding a separate rail that includes additional information about a contact. The service has plug-ins for and web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. There are also iPhone and Android applications.

The biggest potential here is for enterprise users. Gist gives users quick access to additional information about potential business partners and clients. It can also speed up the process a bit by dropping the information right into a browser or email inbox.

It makes sense that Research in Motion would want to pick up the service for its BlackBerry email services. Research in Motion still has a strong grip on the enterprise smartphone market, but other smartphones like those running Google’s Android operating system and the iPhone are starting to creep up on the BlackBerry maker. Adding additional functions to its corporate email and BlackBerry messaging services that help enterprise users is just one way of fending off the latest wave of challengers.

There’s definitely some interest in the service — the company recently raised $6.75 million from Foundry Group and Vulcan Capital. Gist raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Vulcan Capital before that round. The Seattle, Wash.-based company was founded in 2008.

VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools. Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.