A spokesperson for Sprint recently spoke with journalists about the company's overall roadmap and where RIM's upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices will fit in. He said that the wireless carrier is definitely "excited" about the new BlackBerry products, but will have to take a wait-and-see approach before fully committing itself to the new lineup.
But the big news is the spokesperson's comment about RIM itself, saying that the BlackBerry company likely will not go back to the level it was at two years ago. As previously stated, BlackBerry 10 will be a "make it or break it" platform for RIM as it struggles to compete with Apple's iPhone, Google's Android platform and Microsoft's upcoming Windows Phone 8.
"I would not count RIM out," spokesperson David Owen said. "RIM keeps reinventing itself. BlackBerry 10, as we've looked at it, has some really good characteristics. We're excited to see what it can do."
But he points out that unlike Google, RIM approached the mobile market on all fronts, from software to hardware. Right now even RIM itself is trying to determine if it wants to take that route again, or invite device manufacturers into the mix so that the BlackBerry brand can thoroughly saturate the mobile market.
"They took on the entire gambit: the storefront, the operating system, the manufacturing, and this caused them to be slow in reacting to the changes in the market," he said. "We don't think we will see RIM get back to the levels they were two years ago. So we have to figure out where they'll be going forward [in Sprint's product roadmap]."
As reported last week, at one point RIM considered using Android before moving forward with the development of BlackBerry 10. But right now RIM is in an interesting position: does it continue to be Apple-like and produce its own hardware and software package, or license out its operating system? RIM doesn't have the economy of scale to really compete with manufacturers that can produce 60 smartphones a year. And taking on Apple can be risky in a legal sense as Samsung has figured out.
"There’s different options we could do that we’re currently investigating," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said last week. "You could think about us building a reference system, and then basically licensing that reference design, have others build the hardware around it – either it’s a BlackBerry or it’s something else being built on the BlackBerry platform. We’re investigating this and it’s way too early to get into any details."
Maybe Sprint is right. Maybe we'll see the birth of a new RIM by the end of the year. After all, RIM keeps reinventing itself, as the Sprint spokesperson stated.