updated 05:31 pm EST, Thu February 14, 2013
Effort at least six months away, focusing on low and midlevel devices
In an interview on Thursday in Waterloo, Canada, BlackBerry chief executive Thorsten Heins said that the company is considering licensing its smartphone operating system to other phone manufacturers. The program is intended to get low-cost devices running the new BlackBerry 10 operating system to increase market share.
"It's a question of the business model and timing to trigger the decision of if and when you would do this." said Heins. He wants to see "a portfolio of BlackBerry 10 products" including "a mid-tier device or, for certain markets, even an entry-level device."
OS licensing is a double-edged sword for the Canadian manufacturer. If the initiative actually takes place, it would be the company's first foray into licensing, would increase the marketshare of the OS and BlackBerry World app and media sales, but it would risk cutting into its own device sales. Limiting licensing to lower-end handsets would keep the higher end (typically, with a larger profit margin) available to itself.
Heins claims that the launch was "the best launch ever in BlackBerry history" and "beyond expectations." He cautions that the company needs to "maintain that momentum, we need to ensure this is just not fireworks."
The licensing program is likely to not start until the end of the year, if at all. When questioned about a timetable, Heins remarked that "if you think about the display resolution, the processors and memory you need, and then run the math, we're probably not going to get there in the next six months."