There have been a few rumors that RIM may be licensing their new operating system to other hardware manufacturers. This is surprising because it would seem to undercut Blackberry’s hardware business. My first reaction to this news was that they are probably considering spinning off the hardware and becoming purely a software company. I know that doesn’t seem to be the trend in the mobile business. Even Google, who has a wide open operating system doesn’t seem to be content not making hardware (resulting in the purchase of Motorola).
I don’t think they can survive as Google does though. Google isn’t trying to make money directly off of the phones, they are looking to use the mobile market to secure their bets on search, advertising and social media. RIM doesn’t have any of those bets. They could exist as a software company, making a management platform based on Blackberry Enterprise Server and their mobile OS, but the company would be a very small fraction of the size of the existing one.
Another possibility is that they were unable to sell the company as a whole, and now they’re trying to sell it off in pieces. Potentially even selling the hardware to someone like LG. the management platform to someone like IBM (BES has always been good with Lotus Notes) and the operating system to someone like Microsoft or HP who could incorporate it in the same way that HP tried (and failed) to incorporate Palm.
The last possibility I can think of is that Blackberry wants to move up the ladder to being an exclusive or high-end product on the hardware side and they feel they can let another manufacture build low-price models that would expand the ecosystem but not compete with Blackberry’s own hardware.
Anyone else have thoughts?