RIM mulls licensing BlackBerry 10 to rival device makers

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Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) admitted it cannot effectively compete against larger mobile device manufacturers and said it is considering a move to license its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system  to those same rivals.

"We don't have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year," RIM CEO Thorstein Heins told The Telegraph. "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 stated RIM is still considering its options, adding "it's way too early to get into any details." However, he said "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... We have to also model this from a finance perspective .... Either we do it ourselves or we do it with a partner. But we will not abandon the subscriber base."

RIM shipped 8.5 million BlackBerry smartphones in the second quarter of 2012, down from 12.5 million a year earlier according to data issued earlier this week by independent analyst firm Canalys. BlackBerry now powers just 5.4 percent of the global smartphone market, compared to 11.6 percent in the second quarter of 2011; by comparison, Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system boasts a worldwide market share of 68.1 percent, up from 47.6 percent a year ago, followed by Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS at 16.4 percent.

Heins nevertheless maintains that the BlackBerry ecosystem is "not in a trough," blaming RIM's struggles on the migration to BlackBerry 10, expected to launch in early 2013. "We know that BlackBerry OS7 was a great platform, but it would not carry us to where we wanted to be tomorrow, with the full mobile computing experience," he said. "We don't have the resources like a Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT). We have to place one bet and make it right--we don't want to go for an intermediate step. It comes out in the first quarter and I think a lot of people are going to be surprised." Heins added that BlackBerry 10 represents a "once-in-a-decade change that will see us through the next ten years."

For more:
- read this Telegraph article

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