Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) said it will soon be ready to license the company’s new BlackBerry 10 operating system to other manufacturers, even as it races to release its own devices with the software by early next year.
The new platform is in the final stages of testing, and RIM is now considering how other companies may be able to use it in a range of products, Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said today. The BlackBerry 10 lineup was built on software called QNX, which is used in cars, nuclear plants and military drones.
“QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector --we could do that with BB10 if we chose to,” Heins, who has begun to carry a BB10 phone for his own use, said in an interview at Bloomberg’s headquarters in New York. “The platform can be licensed.”
BB10, which has an improved Web browser and the ability to jump between applications while they continue running, is the linchpin of RIM’s efforts to regain market share from Apple Inc. and Google Inc. Licensing the new software to other manufacturers may help bolster investors’ confidence in the operating system. RIM’s stock jumped as much as 13 percent on Aug. 8 after Jefferies & Co speculated that Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) might license BB10.
After six straight days of gains, the Waterloo, Ontario- based company’s shares fell 2.7 percent to $8.07 at the close in New York. The stock has lost about 95 percent of its value from its mid-2008 high.
Global BlackBerry sales tumbled 43 percent last quarter as RIM’s aging lineup of devices failed to match the consumer appeal of Android phones and Apple’s iPhone. BB10 will change RIM’s fortunes, Heins said today.
“We’re here to win,” he said. “We’re not here to fight for third or fourth place.”
The BlackBerry 10 represents a fresh start for RIM, which abandoned its old software to create the operating system. The new lineup uses technology from its 2010 acquisition of QNX Software Systems, which RIM bought from Harman International Industries Inc. (HAR) for $200 million. The underlying software has been used by companies ranging from Cisco Systems Inc. to General Electric Co. to Caterpillar Inc.
In Heins’s vision for RIM, the company will expand the scope of its devices beyond BlackBerry smartphones and PlayBook tablets into other areas of mobile computing and what he calls machine-to-machine communications.
“Smartphones are a part of our business, but we’re looking way beyond this,” he said.
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