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.