John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM Was Always Open to Licensing BlackBerry 10, and It Still Is

RIM_I_Want_To_BelieveResearch In Motion has poured its heart and soul into the development of BlackBerry 10, the new operating system with which it hopes to reinvigorate its tarnished brand. But it’s not opposed to licensing it to other hardware manufacturers if the opportunity were to arise.

According to CEO Thorsten Heins, RIM is not married to the idea of OS exclusivity, nor is a deal to license BlackBerry 10 beyond the realm of possibility. In other words, nothing is off the table, and the company is keeping its options open. “The main thing for now is to successfully introduce BlackBerry 10,” Heins told Die Welt. “Then we’ll see.”

This isn’t anything new. It’s a variation on what Heins has been saying for months now with varying degrees of specificity. Last June, he even volunteered a theoretical scenario. “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,” Heins said.

Then, in an August interview with the Telegraph, Heins appeared to be sketching out just what a BB10 licensing model might look like. “We don’t have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year,” he said. “To deliver BB10, we may need to look at licensing it to someone who can do this at a way better cost proposition than [we] can do it.”

A few weeks later, Heins made an even more definitive statement. “QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector,” he said, referring to platform on which BB10 was developed. “We could do that with BB10 if we chose to. The platform can be licensed.”

Now, none of these remarks are confirmation that RIM will license BB10. But they’re a pretty clear indication that it would do so if the right financial and strategic incentives were there — and if there were a willing licensee, of course.

But to find a willing licensee, BlackBerry 10 must first prove itself in the market. And ensuring it does so successfully is RIM’s priority at the moment.

“Thorsten Heins has made it very clear that we are focused on the delivery of BlackBerry 10, which we will launch with events around the world on January 30th,” RIM spokeswoman Amy Jones told AllThingsD. “As he said on our most recent results conference call on December 20th, we continue to examine all available options to ‘create new opportunities, focusing on areas where we will be more effective partnering rather than going it alone, and ultimately maximizing value for all stakeholders.’ We do not have anything new to report on our Strategic Review at this time.”

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik