updated 04:16 pm EDT, Thu August 2, 2012
Licensing could spread platform across lower-cost devices
Research in Motion CEO Thorsten Heins says the company is exploring all options with regard to increasing the user base for its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, including licensing the software for use on devices made by other manufacturers. In an interview with The Telegraph, Heins said that a licensing agreement could help grow BlackBerry OS' market share while RIM focuses on shoring up its own bottom line with premium-priced devices. Heins' comments come even as reports circulate that the BlackBerry maker is in its death throes.
Heins says RIM is looking for partnerships and new business partners with which it might pursue licensing agreements, but he also says the company is focused on honing the user experience for BB10 and ensuring that its two forthcoming BB10 handsets are of a quality that can compete with the likes of Samsung and Apple. He says the company is investigating whether it could produce a reference design around which hardware partners like Sony or Samsung could produce phones, but Heins believes it is too early to get into any details on the matter.
Licensing the BlackBerry 10 software could help RIM generate revenues and grow market share. Most of the growth in RIM's most recent quarter came from developing markets. Consumers in those markets largely lack the purchasing flexibility seen in the developed world, so the sort of premium-priced phones RIM will release next year would likely get little traction. A hardware partner, though, could help RIM keep growing in the developing world even as the company launches offerings to better compete in developed markets.
Questioned on RIM's declining position in the mobile OS sector, Heins shrugged off the possibility of the company switching to Microsoft's Windows Phone or Google's Android operating system. He noted that Google's manufacturing partners have "very little wiggle room" with regard to differentiating their Android products. Heins was more dismissive of Windows Phone, saying that Microsoft has yet to demonstrate the sales successes to justify the media attention its mobile platform receives.
As to RIM's future, Heins remains optimistic. RIM, he says, is looking to develop a "full mobile computing experience" with "true multitasking." Heins characterizes BB10 as a "once in a decade change that will see us through the next ten years."