RIM is investigating licensing out BlackBerry 10 to rival manufacturers, building reference designs that it would then allow other companies to produce in bulk. Again denying that RIM is in a financial slump, CEO Thorsten Heins confirmed to the Telegraph that the company is “investigating” the possibility of licensing the upcoming new platform, revealing that “we’re working with the financial advisers to see if we do this where it would take the company.”
According to Heins, RIM’s problem is that it’s at a significant evolution point where a new OS is essential, but it lacks the heft to take on that challenge as, say, Microsoft might. “We don’t have the resources like a Microsoft” he pointed out, “we have to place one bet and mike it right; we don’t want to go for an intermediate step.”
The problems of OS strategy are then repeated when it comes to actually pushing out phones running BlackBerry 10. Unlike Microsoft, which licenses Windows Phone rather than make its own handsets, RIM currently has to do both parts. That, Heins concedes, is proving difficult to keep up with.
“We don’t have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year” the CEO said. “We have to differentiate and have a focused platform. To deliver BB10 we may need to look at licensing it to someone who can do this at a way better cost proposition than I can do it. There’s different options we could do that we’re currently investigating.”
As he sees it, RIM would do the core design work on software and “best fit” hardware, and then throw open the field to licensees. “You could think about us building a reference system” he explains, “and then basically licensing that reference design, have others build the hardware around it – either it’s a BlackBerry or it’s something else being built on the BlackBerry platform.”
The key, Heins insists, is to “not abandon the subscriber base”, which is currently being forced to wait a little longer with its BlackBerry 7 devices after the replacement platform was pushed back into early 2013.