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Is RIM Really Serious About Licensing BlackBerry 10?

It’s been interesting to watch RIM go through its transition to BB10. But one comment that always raises my eyebrow is all this talk about licensing BB10 to other OEM. Is RIM really serious about licensing BB10 to the likes of HTC, Samsung, or LG? Well, maybe but it’s certainly not their primary goal.

Licensing to me is nothing more than a smoke screen for investors. Shareholders have seen their investment lose value over the last couple of years and RIM not only needed to market to consumers but also needed to market to shareholders. In order to do that you can’t be telling investors you’re not going to consider all available options to bring value back to their investments.

To me, licensing only becomes a real option if BB10 does fair as well as we all hope, I don’t believe that will be the case for RIM. Licensing BB10 would make the branding and marketing message extremely difficult for RIM. For years RIM has been known as a complete solution for companies and consumers, it controls its hardware and operating system. When this control is gone it creates problems for the brand and unlike Google, RIM’s in the smartphone business not advertising.

Licensing creates three major problems that are not good for RIM; reduced brand loyalty, increased competition, and fragmentation. The reduce brand loyalty is probably the biggest reason why I believe RIM has this as a last option. Like team BlackBerry? Well what team are you when HTC, Samsung, or LG are producing BB10. Is it team BB10 or team BlackBerry? I don’t know but it’s a mess if it gets to that point. RIM needs to reduce competition and licensing does the exact opposite. Essentially, it would give other smartphone manufacturers another OS to delight consumers with while leaving RIM with only one option. As for fragmentation, just look at all the fun Android is having right now.

There’s no doubt that licensing is a possible option for RIM, it’s just not in the way everyone thinks. RIM wants to create new revenue streams and I think it’s looking at QNX and the auto industry and other verticals for these licensing opportunities. At the end of the day licensing BB10 is like the talk of opening BBM to all platforms, sounds nice for consumers but ultimately it would be a bad business move.

16 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. My friends think of Smart appliances , Cars, Servers, etc etc. It won t necessarily mean on smart phones but on other products. Qnx Is already on mission critical products, blackberry 10 is probably the extension of qnx :)

    • Licensing only make sense if BB10 does well, but, if BB10 does well, why do you want to license??

      • BINGO, Brian! This is what I do not understand — why? You nailed it!!!

        Add to that the instability issues, testing on popular & unpopular third party hardware, differentiated products & software, less secure options to muddle the waters…

        RIM gets a black eye if the hardware fails, is unreliable, or if there was insufficient testing by the hardware vendor. Why do they want that? Also RIM will have to give those vendors inside info into BlackBerry services creating different flavours of BB10. These vendors will want to differentiate their products. Why do we want this mess?

        Anyway, the proof of the pudding is: just look at why Windows Mobile & Windows Phone never took!

        Android is different because it is essentially free. Who will pay for a BB10 license without some inside goodies?

        • Because they can’t make money building low end phones and others might be able to. Best bets would be a Chinese company, but I sispect the security issues might make that hard.

          Flodding the market (espcially developing markets) with low end BB10s would be great for RIM because when those people are ready to upgrade they will already know BB10 and have BBM contacts etc.

          It would also make development on the BB10 platform more attractive.

          No one blames microsoft if the hardware on a laptop is sub par.

          • Don’t need low end phones. Again, the Apple model works. Folks are still buying iPhone 4s devices because they are cheaper than the iPhone 5. Apple is still selling the iPhone 4 as well, at a bigger discount.

          • Also, continuing to sell last year’s model, Apple doesn’t have to design another device from scratch, build, ship, market, and support. Imagine the cost savings. Last year’s model is a perfectly good “low end” device. Since folks with older devices can upgrade their software, this philosophy works!

          • Yes, folks DO blame Microsoft when HP points to Microsoft regarding a problem and Microsoft points back to HP. Who loses? The customer, and they will not have a good experience. Next time around, they will punish the vendors. They won’t necessarily switch from Windows since Microsoft has a monopoly in the PC market… but MacBooks are starting to do well! There is no monopoly in the mobile world. People will switch!

      • Wrong. Different markets require different strategies. BB10 is the platform – not a product. The low-end, high-volume game cannot be fought effectively by RIM. Having a SINGLE)i.e. no fragmentation or mess, very controlled) large scale manufacturer take care of the low-end/high volume/limited feature phones would be a very smart move for RIM. Allows them to penetrate markets they otherwise may not be able to compete in, while fighting different battles in mid and high end markets. Car manufacturers do it – there’s no reason RIM can’t do it with handsets.

  2. i’m agree with you. it will a big mistake for RIM to fragment phone ecosysteme. but…
    if we think arround the cell and tablet we can found a legitimity.
    QNX are under licence for very HiTech and special industries. RIM can provide a BB10 software for custermer market accessories to improve ecosystem. if your car, your TV, your phone can run the same os, potentially they can run same app and communicate more simplely.
    RIM can create a new market for partner and not share mobile market. 😉
    RIM go ahead in device2device communication, it’s the future trust rim 😉

  3. Yes, I can see licensing to auto compnaies! But licensing to other smartphone manufacturers would be a big mistake!

  4. Oldest model Microsoft get others to build hardware ~ not that good anymore

    Older model Apple ~ Build integrated hardware and software.

    Newer model Google ~ licence and also have others build Nexus product.

    Newest Microsoft. Licence software and also build high-end hardware to push partners to higher quality.

    I like the latter two better than the former two.

    I think what people want is for RIM to Apple, but that is hard since Apple was first in iPad. But look at Apple’s model in laptops and desktops, sure they look pretty but no real market share and OSX still suffers from lack of quality programs, or getting programs late due to market share.

    • Both Microsoft and Google are trying to make this model work. It seemed to work in the PC industry but in the mobile industry, it isn’t working. They are looking at hybrid models where they manufacture some high end devices, but it is starting to leave little wiggle room for the others to step in. Google is now trying to pick a vendor to create a high end model. First it was Motorola, then Samsung, now LG. We’ll see how that evolves.

  5. It’s all about verticals: to boldly go where QNX has (and hasn’t ) gone before.

  6. I agree with the people saying license but not to other cell phone makers unless its low end.

    They already license QNX and with QNX and RIMs technologies put together there will be plenty of markets and devices for RIM to enter.

    Great article.

  7. QNX never build hardware. RIM builds excellent hardware. That is one huge difference.

    Also, because of UI user concerns, the entire platform must be tightly knit to give users the very best experience possible. One cannot guarantee that if they don’t also make the hardware.

    Yes, Microsoft and Google are beginning to manufacture their own devices, but the experience users will get on lower end hardware will taint the entire platform and damage the company’s reputation. Folks don’t say my last HTC phone was flakey (if that is so), they just tell others that “Android sucks!”

  8. People forget that most of the phones RIM sells now are curves. They need the curves to drive people to the higher end phones, and basically hook people to BBM.

    People think RIM should follow the Apple model. How is that model working for Apple in Indian and Indonesia, and Africa?

    The ability to market low end phones in these markets is important to RIM. They are the only reason RIM’s base is growing now.

    At the same time low end android phones are entering those markets and their capabilities will eat the lunch of BB7 based phones. RIM needs low end BB10 phones to keep those markets solid.

    Also don’t forget Nokia is going to enter too with low end windows phones. RIM needs a low end BB10 phone to compete.

    Yes I prefer RIM make the phone themselves but if there is no money in it they need to partner.

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