Feature Article

January 21, 2013

BlackBerry 10 May be Available on Non-RIM Devices in Licensing Agreement

Things have not been going well lately for Research In Motion (RIM). Declining sales, long-term customers throwing them over for Apple and Android devices, and problems all around are making things tough for the former mobile powerhouse. But a plan in the works recently discussed by RIM CEO Thorsten Heins may well have the future of RIM, and BlackBerry 10, well in focus as not a proprietary software system powering only RIM hardware, but as a licensed fixture on other devices.

Heins, talking to Germany's "Die Welt," said that he was keeping every option open in terms of getting the company back to a successful stand, but when the topic turned to licensing BlackBerry 10 for use on other devices, Heins said it was "conceivable" that such licensing could be done. But in order to do that, according to the reports, the platform would first need to show the world that it has "large potential."

BlackBerry 10 is set to hit at the end of January, which in turn will represent not only a major shift in the way BlackBerry devices run, but also represent RIM's best attempt at taking on the more frequently updated competing OS products, like Apple's iOS and Google's Android products. The plan is that RIM will be offering BlackBerry 10 devices with touchscreen controls only at first, following up with QWERTY keyboards in the weeks and months to follow.

Regardless of RIM's plans, Heins went on to say that, while all options were on the table, final decisions were certainly postponed for some time until RIM could determine just what the market was thinking about BlackBerry 10. Naturally, there's no way to know just how popular those devices will prove to be until they've been selling for a while, but the early word suggests that this particular batch of RIM products have some significant new features in place that will make them a much, much different animal than earlier versions. New features like onscreen keyboards with typing that can predict what will be typed as well as a central hub to access frequently used features without the need to switch between apps are likely to give them something of an edge, as well as the ability to switch between work and personal use on the same device, but with different encryption methods for what's produced during those times.

Give RIM due credit; it's certainly not accepting Apple and Google's dominance as a sure thing, unable to be broken. BlackBerry used to be the weapon of choice in the business community, though lately Apple has made a lot of incursion into that territory. The BlackBerry revamp may well be just what RIM needed to get BlackBerry back into fighting trim and able to pull away some of those business users who jumped ship, especially given that in recent days Apple was seen somewhat weakening, reducing parts orders for the iPhone 5 and the new iPad alike. Should RIM turn BlackBerry into an operating system only rather than (or even as well as) a complete package, it may well be able to take some of the wind out of Android's sails as well, as a lot of smaller phone makers use Android because of its ease of licensing.

Seeing just where RIM goes in the coming days will be a fight well worth watching, and hopefully, this powerful brand can keep up its fight and give users more choice in the market in the months to come.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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