BB10 to be licensed to other manufacturers, RIM boss hints

RIM's boss has hinted that BlackBerry phones made by the likes of Sony or Samsung could be incoming.

BlackBerry-maker RIM has hinted that BlackBerry phones made by rival companies such as Samsung or Sony could prove a reality, with the company's chief saying it's looking into licensing its delayed BlackBerry 10 software .

In an interview with the Telegraph, recently appointed CEO Thorsten Heins says, "we don't have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year," going on to comment, "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."

In other words, to churn out enough BlackBerry phones to make an impact, RIM could require the help of another manufacturer that's more adept at spawning phones at low costs. That could mean a company like, say, Samsung or Huawei building the phones and gluing on the BlackBerry operating system.

That appears to be an option that the ailing company is looking into, with Heins going on to ruminate about how such a partnership could work.

"You could think about us building a reference system, and then basically licensing that reference design, have others build the hardware around it," says the CEO, who replaced company co-founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis at the start of the year . "Either it's a BlackBerry or it’s something else being built on the BlackBerry platform."

Heins says the company, which is counting on BlackBerry 10 to win back ground that it's lost to Android manufacturers and Apple, is "investigating" the possibility of letting other companies have a pop at constructing its phones.

"Either we do it ourselves or we do it with a partner," the head honcho intones, going on to vow, "but we will not abandon the subscriber base." In order to make its partnership ploy work, however, RIM would first need to find a manufacturer willing to make BlackBerry phones, which could be a risky bet.

While Heins insists that RIM's platform is "still growing", it's no secret that BlackBerry phones have lost a great deal of ground in the battle for shoppers' pockets. The news in June that the Canadian company's snazzy new BB10 software had been delayed again accompanied rumours that the organisation could soon be broken up and sold off.

The first BlackBerry 10 phone, dubbed 'London' is expected to be touchscreen only, but we won't see it until early next year . A larger version of the doomed PlayBook is also tipped for 2013.

Which company would you like to see make a BlackBerry phone? Let me know in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.


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