RIM CEO Says Licensing BlackBerry 10 Is “Conceivable”. Also Not Ruling Out Selling Its Hardware Production Business

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The CEO of RIM, Thorsten Heins, has been speaking to German newspaper Die Welt ahead of the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices — due in Q1. Heins told the newspaper he has not ruled out licensing the new OS to other manufacturers. Asked whether RIM might not go down the licensing route, as Microsoft has with Windows Phone, he said (translated from German by Google Translate): “Before you licensed the software, you must show that the platform has a large potential. First we have to fulfill our promises. If such proof, a licensing is conceivable.”

Heins was also asked what has taken the BlackBerry maker so long to get its next-gen OS in the market. He told Die Welt that the reason for the delay is because RIM is building a platform that’s fit for the next decade — and one which can find its way into new types of devices. “We have taken the time to build a platform that is future-proof for the next ten years. Our aim is not only to smartphones, but also to the use, for example, in cars that will be in the future increasingly networked. We see with BlackBerry 10 completely new areas of growth,” he said.

The CEO also revealed that RIM has been using up a lot of shoe leather visiting carriers to introduce them to BB10. “We have visited more than 100 network operators in person to introduce BlackBerry 10. The response has been extremely good, you want to have alternatives to Android, Apple and Co.,” he told the newspaper. In December all the U.K.’s major carriers confirmed they planned to range BlackBerry 10 devices this year.

Heins also told the newspaper that the “perception” the BlackBerry brand is just for business people is “no longer the reality”, pointing to markets such as the U.K., Indonesia and South Africa he said messaging is its primary use-case there.

“We are a relatively young industry. In the smartphone market, which is growing fast, so there is still plenty of room. It will be shown at some point, how many systems the market can bear. I’m assuming that we’ll play with BlackBerry 10 is not just a role. I think our role will be substantial,” he added.

In a longer version of the interview on Die Welt’s website Heins also discusses what’s changed in the year since he took over as CEO of RIM. “Honestly a lot,” he said. “We have an entirely new management team.The company has become leaner, which meant that we have reduced costs. Meanwhile, decisions are made ​​faster and responsibilities were redistributed. We are still in the middle of this process. We even increased the liquidity, although many of us have predicted that we would burn money. We are debt-free and have $ 2.9 billion cash available.”

Heins added that RIM is still undergoing a strategic review — with the possibility of licensing BB10 and selling its hardware production unit both still options on the table. “But there is no reason for us to decide in [haste],” he added. “It is important first of all, BlackBerry 10 successfully putting them on the market. Then we shall see.”