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RIM to consider licensing OS or selling off hardware division once BlackBerry 10 is released

Research-in-Motion is considering selling its enterprise assets and hardware-making division, or licensing out BlackBerry 10 once the new platform launches.
January 21, 2013

RIM is trying to save its smartphone platform from sinking into obscurity. Its latest effort: BlackBerry 10. Instead of opting to switch to an altogether new platform, the company is upgrading BlackBerry, which was once the de facto standard in the corporate and enterprise mobile market. Now, with less than 3% market share — owing to the rising popularity of Android and iOS in the enterprise setting — the company’s worry is whether it will remain relevant enough even among its target audience.

CEO Thorsten Heins, speaking to German-language magazine Die Welt, says the company is considering several things once BB10 is launched. These include selling off the company’s hardware division, which makes BlackBerry phones. The company might also license out its mobile operating system, much like what Microsoft does with Windows Phone, and Google with Android. Other options include licensing out BlackBerry Messenger, which remains to be one of the platforms’ more popular functionalities, as well as RIM’s enterprise services infrastructure. RIM might also simply move production of its devices to a third party company.

There is no hurry for any of these, though, says Heins, although these are possible scenarios for RIM moving forward. For now, the company’s focus is launching its BlackBerry 10 platform by end January. BB10 is actually already late, having been postponed several times in 2012.

Will licensing out BlackBerry help save  the ailing Canadian company? Will its platform remain relevant in a world dominated by Android and iOS? From a consumer’s point of view, do you think a third-party smartphone running BlackBerry would have a good selling point? How about an Android phone or Windows Phone with BBM? RIM has done it before, particularly through partnerships with Nokia (with BlackBerry Exchange)?