RIM May License Blackberry To Others
January 21, 2013

RIM Opens The Door On Licensing Or Hardware Sale

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

RIM, the producer of BlackBerry, has always held the reigns tightly on the platform. It produces the hardware, develops the software for the operating system, and handles the flow of email through its servers as well as enterprise servers hosted by individual businesses supplying BlackBerrys to their workforce. Now it looks like future BlackBerry phones may be produced by other manufacturers.

The CEO of RIM, Thorsten Heins, told German newspaper Die Welt "the sale of hardware production as well as licensing our software," is a possibility. Other possibilities include simply licensing the OS to allow other manufacturers to produce handsets running the BlackBerry OS.

"If done right, I think this could be a great idea and a successful move for RIM," industry analyst Jeff Kagan told redOrbit.

The remarks come on the eve of RIM's launch of the much-anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system. RIM has set a release date for the operating system and a line of new handsets for January 30. The release date comes a year after BlackBerry 10 was originally due to be released.

If RIM opens the door for manufacturers to produce phones that will run BlackBerry 10 software, it is possible some of the top-selling smartphone manufacturers such as HTC and Samsung will produce for the platform. Nokia could also make phones running BlackBerry 10 software. Currently it is phasing out its older Symbian OS and creating phones that run Windows 7.

"RIM used to be number one. Now they are behind Apple and Google," said Kagan.

For several years, RIM held a large portion of the market share in smartphones, largely due to enterprise customers who outfitted their workforces with a fleet of BlackBerry handsets. Over time, the popularity of iPhone and Android phones has moved in to business use. Lately there has been a movement toward "BYOD," or bring your own device, in business. Many companies allow employees to choose their own handset to access the company's servers. Some of those companies offer a full or partial reimbursement toward the cost of the handset and wireless contract with the carrier.

BYOD has opened the doors for many employees to move away from BlackBerry and use an iPhone or Android device for their work and personal activities -- making it possible to use just one device for both functions.

RIM's Heins offered information the company would consider a sale of its hardware operations without a direct question. He did follow-up by saying this and any other "big strategy" decisions will not be made before observing the market's initial response to BlackBerry 10, Mashable reported.

Media and industry response to the news of the possible hardware operations sale has been received by mixed opinions. Forbes contributor Ewan Spence wrote a piece titled "Dear Research In Motion, Licensing The BlackBerry 10 OS Would Be A Bad IDEA." Spence argues the sale would cause structural upheaval and bring little financial return. The sale might also damage sales of RIM's new handsets.