Forget the rumors of a RIM sale. As with all public companies, the possibility exists. But it appears that RIM is intent on digging itself out of the hole it dog for itself in the last few years. From what we’ve seen in just the last few weeks, they might be onto something. First it was the image of the first BlackBerry 10 smartphone, and then it was the images of BlackBerry 10 running. Both look pretty sharp indeed, and should convey at least a sense of confidence in RIM’s future. Yet they might not be able to go it alone. RIM could need the help of other big mobile players if they’re going to truly thrive in the new mobile environment.
That looks like a pretty usable smartphone interface. Of course, it’s just a still, and it does look a bit like BlackBerry 7. But given what we know about BlackBerry 10 — after all, it is based on the tablet OS — we could be in for something big. Add to that a number of other features, including a 3D virtual keyboard, and RIM could really knock this one out of the park. There’s just one problem, though.
They need a serious marketing push.
It’s impossible to deny the negative public perception of RIM right now, particularly in the US. The US is a huge and profitable portion of the global cellular market, and if RIM is going to turn around the BlackBerry brand it has to do so in the States. But how are they going to convince people that the BlackBerry is back for real? Having a stunning product is Step 1, and apparently RIM plans to nail down that one. They’ll need some more oomph to make a big impression, though. And that’s where licensing come in.
While RIM certainly wants to sell BlackBerry-branded handsets, seeing as they make money that way, they do stand to benefit from harnessing the power of HTC, Samsung, and other big mobile players. Those manufacturers are basically running with Android and little else. They do have influence, and they do have clout. If they put their reputation behind a new BlackBerry OS, well, it might turn around some people that RIM wouldn’t otherwise reach.
There’s no doubt that RIM loses out some in this equation, since they might be eating into their own handset sales. But remember, RIM does have other divisions. They’ll still make money on these Samsung and HTC handset sales, not only from the license, but also fromBES and BIS connections. That is, their data center services provide income that other similar companies just don’t realize. It might be enough incentive for them to go ahead with the licensing program.
If anything has become clear in the last few weeks, it’s that BlackBerry 10 has some serious potential. We’d heard the hype before, and now we’re starting to see some of the details leak out. I expect to become more impressed as the leaks grow larger. Here’s the thing, though: RIM has to execute here where they did not in the past. As the old passive line goes, mistakes were made. Now it’s time to learn from those mistakes and forge ahead. It’s not an easy battle, not with the current state of mobile in the US. But RIM appears to be positioning itself well for Blackberry 10. Licensing it to other manufacturers could prove an excellent marketing vehicle.