BlackBerry: other manufacturers could license our new BB10 platform
Thorsten Heins, chief executive of Research in Motion, has told the Telegraph that manufacturers such as Sony or Samsung could licence the new BlackBerry operating system.
The troubled technology giant cannot compete with larger manufacturers and so must look at how to get more budget smartphones into the market, Heins says.
In an exclusive interview, Heins tells the Telegraph,
“We don’t have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year. 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.”
That raises the prospect of a BlackBerry phone that is made by, say, Samsung or Sony.
“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’re investigating this and it’s way too early to get into any details. We have to also model this from a finance perspective – that’s why we’re working with the financial advisers to see if we do this where would it take the company. Either we do it ourselves or we do it with a partner. But we will not abandon the subscriber base.”
Heins also claims that Blackberry is “not in a trough”, and says that
“If you look at the platform it’s still growing, if you look at the devices we’ve got a single phone that’s sold 45million units.”
Research in Motion, BlackBerry’s parent company, once traded shares at over $140; now they are at $7.25.
Heins argues that the current difficulties are due to a once-in-a-decade change over to new operating system, BlackBerry 10.
“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,” says Heins. “We don’t have the resources like a Microsoft; 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.” BB10, for instance, will allow what Heins calls “true multitasking”, potentially running a car’s navigation, entertainment and gaming systems for the whole family. “It’s working and it’s running right now,” says Heins as he points to his own phone. “It has never reset on me. The teams are working relentlessly day and night, at the weekends – it’s a once in a decade change that will see us through the next ten years.”
He says the bulk of the work going on for the new software is not building an operating system, it’s building the “platform around it”, and argues that BlackBerry must continue to control and provide a uniquely differentiated experience if it is to retain its customers’ loyalty.