RIM boss Heins says licensing of BlackBerry 10 imminent

Troubled Canadian firm Research In Motion (RIM) has announced that it is nearly ready to begin licensing out its new BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system to external companies.

The new OS is said to be in the final stages of testing and RIM is now appraising its potential uses outside of deployment on native devices, according to CEO Thorsten Heins.

It would mark the first time RIM has made its proprietary mobile platform available to OEMs and, with so much riding on new BB10 gadgets - likely to start being released in early 2013 - it is a move some observers are interpreting as a further sign of the company's desperation.

Heins, however, maintains that as the base-software being used to develop BB10 is already present in a number of other platforms, remaining overly protective of the upcoming operating system is pointless.

The new BlackBerry line-up uses technology from RIM's 2010 acquisition of QNX Software Systems, which was bought from Harman International Industries for some £125 million in 2010. As Heins notes, the underlying software has already been deployed by a range of companies including Cisco Systems and General Electric.

"QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector - we could do that with BB10 if we chose to. The platform can be licensed," Heins said in an interview with Bloomberg.

BlackBerry 10 represents either a promising new horizon for RIM, or a defiant last-stand on the part of a soon-to-be extinct company, depending on who you ask.

While it remains to be seen whether RIM will license BB10 directly to other mobile phone manufacturers, there seems to be little doubt that is preparing to push the platform to external companies.

Last week, attempts by the North American company to negotiate a deal with Samsung were rebuffed by the Korean tech titan. Microsoft, in turn, is rumoured to have been making flirtatious overtures in RIM's direction of late.

Research In Motion's recent struggles are thought to be down to its aging BlackBerry smartphone range, which seems less and less attractive by the day. What was once the device of choice for mobile enthusiasts is now seen as lacking the slickness and widespread appeal of Android handsets and Apple's iPhone.

Heins remains defiant, though, continuing to venture that the BB10 is a game-changer.

"We're here to win," he claims. "We're not here to fight for third or fourth place."

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