After repeatedly ruling it out as an option, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins appears to have finally listened to reason and will consider a strategy of licensing BlackBerry 10 to manufacturers. Interested companies such as Samsung, Sony, HTC, and others could choose to release a device running on the BlackBerry 10 platform. In an interview with The Telegraph, Heins gave a glimpse as to what a proposed licensing arrangement would look like.
“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. We’re investigating this and it’s way too early to get into any details. We have to also model this from a finance perspective – that’s why we’re working with the financial advisers to see if we do this where would it take the company. Either we do it ourselves or we do it with a partner. But we will not abandon the subscriber base.” - Thorsten Heins, CEO, Research In Motion
The move is largely expected by analysts after two miserable financial quarters which saw RIM hire JP Morgan and RBC Capital Markets to review RIM’s strategy in an effort to keep it in business going forward. All options from licensing to a sale of all or part of RIM were on the table, so a licensing deal makes sense for the struggling company. Of course, there would need to be a company actually interested in licensing RIM’s software, which may be a bit of a stretch given the successes of other platforms.