Who could license BlackBerry 10?
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) is working towards launching its BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system early next year but there is more to it than what meets the eye. The Canadian smartphone vendor’s German CEO, Thorsten Heins is looking at developing not just an operating system but a platform that could power a car’s navigation, entertainment and gaming devices. However, RIM continues to have a challenge when it comes to having smartphones at multiple price points.
“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,” Heins said in an interview with UK’s Telegraph.
This is not the first time we are hearing Heins evaluating a licensing model like Nokia did with Symbian in the last decade and currently Microsoft is doing with Windows Phone. Earlier this year RIM hired JP Morgan and RBC as financial advisers to look into licensing and partnerships apart from other pressing issues. With delays in launching BB10 and the company’s inability to bring the new platform across the entire spectrum of price points, RIM will continue to sell its BB7 smartphones along with expensive BB10 devices.
Heins does not have much to divulge on licensing front at the moment but from the looks of it that seems to be a very distinct possibility. The only question is who could license BB10. Samsung could be a prospective company to license the platform as it intends to be platform agnostic and have devices running on all possible operating systems. It already has smartphones running on Android, Bada and Windows Phone apart from working with Intel to develop Tizen. At one point of time Samsung was also thought to be one of the potential acquirers of RIM.
On the other hand, Nokia has chosen Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS as its primary smartphone platform while Motorola is exclusively making Android smartphones even before it got acquired by Google. Sony had initially said it would only make Android smartphones but it could be open to licensing another platform. Ambitious Chinese brands like Huawei and ZTE could be potential suitors as they aim to become major players in this space rather than just being an OEM for global carriers.
However, all of it remains mere speculation till RIM actually shows all the capabilities of BB10 and starts shipping devices, which the Waterloo-based company has said on multiple occasions would happen in the first quarter of 2013.