By Matt Burns
RIM (RIMM) is in trouble and is seemingly finally listening to reason. Speaking to The Telegraph, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins talked about how RIM could go about licensing its next-gen BlackBerry platform. But that's assuming manufacturers like Samsung (OTC:SSNLF) or Sony (NYSE:SNE) would actually want to build a BlackBerry 10 device.
Heins' comments show once again that RIM is exploring all the options for the ailing company. After years of failing to innovate and relying on aging platforms, the company lost its once-dominant grip on the smartphone market. Heins previously briefly talked about licensing options but never with these sorts of specifics. But now, after two killer (read: horrible) financial quarters, the Canadian company is likely open to all options.
We don't have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year. 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.
You could think about us building a reference system, 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.
All things considered, RIM could do worse to than license out its new OS. The platform still has some teeth in a market dominated by iOS and Android - there isn't a better emailing/messaging device than a BlackBerry, and broadening that experience with fresh hardware couldn't hurt. RIM has also led the industry with integration in enterprise systems, but competitors are closing in.
However, since RIM delayed BB10 until 2013, and given its track record and dire financial status, it's not unreasonable to expect the system to be delayed again. With that thought, it's hard to see any phone maker throwing major resources into making a killer BB10 device. Once again, RIM might be just too late to the game.