RIM Almost Switched to Android, Says CEO

On Thursday RIM CEO Thorsten Heins made several revelations in an interview with The Telegraph, one of which is the possibility of letting other OEMs create BlackBerry devices so that RIM can better compete with Google's Android platform and Apple's iOS devices. He also admitted that the company thought long and hard about switching over to Android before finally deciding to move forward with its latest OS, BlackBerry 10.

"We took the conscious decision not to go Android," he said. "If you look at other suppliers’ ability to differentiate, there’s very little wiggle room. We looked at it seriously – but if you understand what the promise of BlackBerry is to its user base it’s all about getting stuff done. Games, media, we have to be good at it but we have to support those guys who are ahead of the game. Very little time to consume and enjoy content – if you stay true to that purpose you have to build on that basis. And if we want to serve that segment we can’t do it on a me-too approach."

Still, he admitted that RIM doesn't have the economy of scale to compete against competitors that can crank out 60 handsets a year. In order to better differentiate BlackBerry from Android and iOS, it needs to be a focused platform. One advantage is the company's BlackBerry Messenger which, according to Heins, delivers mobile messaging capabilities that are highly unique to the smartphone market.

"[BBM is] what attracts people to BlackBerry," he said. "This is our BlackBerry experience we can deliver -- there’s no other system out there where you can read, write, check if you’ve read my message. We want to make it as differentiated as possible. Going cross platform and opening up would be losing that advantage. I think there’s a huge difference between somebody who just provides the phone and the hardware and someone who provides services."

But to deliver BlackBerry 10, Heins said that RIM may need to look at licensing the OS to someone who can deliver devices at a better cost proposition -- OEMs like Samsung or Sony. "There’s different options we could do that we’re currently investigating," he added. "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."

This is one of the reasons why RIM is working with financial advisers: to see if it's possible to license out BlackBerry 10 and where it would take the company. Either RIM will crank out BlackBerry 10 products in-house, or do it with a partner. Either way, RIM has no plans to abandon its subscriber base. That said, BlackBerry 10 is now make or break for RIM.

"We’ve just got to get it out there," he said.

Contact Us for News Tips, Corrections and Feedback

  • fuzzion
    Headline should read

    " Blackberry almost made a good decision "
  • house70
    Yeah, they decided not to go with the number one mobile OS. Great decision, indeed....
    They had a chance to apply vanilla OS on their otherwise great hardware, and guess what, they blew it. This could have been the Nexus experience alternative that some users are looking for something other than Samsung or HTC.
    Bleah... they deserve what's coming to them.
  • jaywar
    This is a joke. They could have implemented RIM based business applications that they are known for. Android is doing well; RIM isn't, make the switch.
  • Kami3k
    They were too slow to adapt, in the tech industry that means death.
  • chazbeaver
    They should design Blackberries so that it's possible to install Android on them, while still shipping them with the Blackberry OS. Their software is nothing that every phone in the world can't already do, but it is a niche product. So is their hardware, and people that prefer the Blackberry phone hardware itself over other phones would have more of a reason it buy a Blackberry if they could customize the OS.
  • nebun
    in my own opinion, switching to Andorid would have been a mistake, especially with google's slow updates...can't wait to purchase the new 4G capable iphone
  • SAL-e
    nebunin my own opinion, switching to Andorid would have been a mistake, especially with google's slow updates...If Google is so slow with the updates, why Android OEMs can't catch up with them?

    nebun...can't wait to purchase the new 4G capable iphoneHow good for RIM is the oppion of the iPhone fanboy?"
  • jojesa
    nebunin my own opinion, switching to Andorid would have been a mistake, especially with google's slow updates...can't wait to purchase the new 4G capable iphoneSo you are comparing Google slow updates vs what.... RIM no updates.
    Or maybe RIM is so fast that in went around and it got stuck behind everybody.
  • shqtth
    Android is a joke.
  • sykozis
    Why create yet another Android based phone? The market is already flooded with poorly supported Android based phones. Instead, RIM needs to come up with something that actually appeals to consumers.