What if RIM Farmed Out the BlackBerry Device Business?

Published on January 20, 2012
by John Paczkowski

Samsung’s repudiation of rumors that it is mulling a bid for Research In Motion appears to have silenced the acquisition chatter surrounding the company, for the time being. But it hasn’t put a damper on what other deals might develop between the two companies.

Earlier this week, we noted speculation that RIM might be talking to Samsung about a licensing deal for its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 OS. Now here’s yet another theory to consider, this one perhaps a bit wilder than those we’ve heard to date: What if RIM were to simply hand over its BlackBerry business to Samsung in return for royalties?

Avian Research’s Matthew Thornton feels it’s a possibility. “A potential and interesting development would be if RIM were to shutter or de-emphasize its own device platform,” Thornton explains. “[By doing this it could] dramatically cut costs, focus on its network and enterprise services and the BlackBerry 10 platform/ecosystem, and allow Samsung to be the de facto device manufacturer for BlackBerry devices (perhaps co-branded) with Samsung paying RIM a licensing fee similar to what it does with Microsoft.”

Thornton’s theory sounds like a bit of a stretch, but it does have some compelling aspects.

RIM is clearly struggling to compete in today’s smartphone market, but its secure messaging platform, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), is still among the best around.

Why not hand off the BlackBerry hardware business to a company that’s responsible for some of the best and most popular Android smartphones? Then the company can double down on BBM and other enterprise services that it actually does well.

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