Microsoft and Nokia discussed a potential takeover of beleaguered BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, leaks have revealed, while RIM itself has approached Samsung, HTC and others about potentially licensing the new BlackBerry 10 OS. Talks between Microsoft and Nokia began several months ago, the WSJ reports, though while executives from the two firms apparently regularly meet with top brass at RIM, it’s unclear whether the Canadian company has been involved in potential acquisition planning.
RIM is refusing to countenance any possibility of abandoning its hardware business and focusing instead on enterprise software and services. Instead, it has supposedly broached the idea of licensing out BlackBerry 10 – the company’s QNX-based next-gen OS that was initially to be called BBX until a trademark dispute forced a rethink – to other companies, in the same manner that Google and Microsoft license their own platforms.
Whether rival firms would be interested in that is uncertain. Samsung and HTC, each of which currently produce both Android and Windows Phone devices, are apparently among those to have been approached by RIM, but no indication of the success of those licensing talks has been given. RIM’s profit strategy is also unknown: Google gives Android away, and makes its cut based on mobile advertising and app downloads, while Microsoft charges manufacturers royalties for using Windows Phone 7.
Unfortunately, unexpected delays in when BlackBerry 10 is expected to hit the market – now tipped for late 2012 rather than early in the year as previously believed – may leave RIM’s licensing strategy simply too late to gain traction. The company is also said to be considering opening up some of its network services, perhaps including BlackBerry Messenger, to others as another potential way of making money.
Co-CEO Jim Balsillie has apparently said internally that the company will wait until the first BlackBerry 10 handsets go on sale before seriously considering takeover bids.