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RIM Plans To License BB10 To Manufacturers

According to the Telegraph, Thorsten Heins, CEO of RIM, has said that the company plans to license its new BlackBerry 10 operating system to other hardware manufacturers when it’s launched. It’s a move that takes a lead from Android in an attempt to make itself relevant again.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Heins explains that RIM’s future could lie not in producing handsets, but in supplying a software platform to the customers that still want it:

“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.”

Thorsten has seemed a little delusional in the past, but there could be something in this idea. It’s broadly accepted that RIM isn’t performing too well, but it has some valuable innards that could become profitable if the company was carved up. Licensing BB10 is probably just one idea from a range that Heins and co are considering.

The licences wouldn’t be free, unlike the model Google uses with Android. But the concern is whether hardware manufacturers would be interested in working with BB10, and also whether anybody would buy a RIM-powered device from the likes of Sony or Samsung. At this stage, maybe those are risks worth taking. [Telegraph]