Research In Motion has been stubborn in doing things its own way, developing both its own software and hardware, not unlike Apple. But when the company's fortunes started to reverse, pundits and investors called for drastic action, including the sale of the company and licensing of RIM's technology.
RIM resisted this pressure even as its stock cratered, until finally its hired two banks, JP Morgan and RBC Capital Markets, to conduct a strategic review. Since then, RIM has seemingly been more open: the company confessed to considering running Android on its BlackBerrys and now it's admitting that it may need to license out BB10 to survive.
According to an interview in The Telegraph with RIM chief executive offcer Thorsten Heins, it's not something the company wants to do, but it's something they may have to do, particularly if they want to competitively sell cheaper devices.
“We don’t have the economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year," Thorsten told The Telegraph. "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.”
It's not an admission of defeat, although some may take it as such. But it is an admission of reality: RIM is but a fragmented husk of what it was once, and it wants to rise again, it must accept that the new RIM may look very different from the old one.