The next version of the Blackberry operating system from Research in Motion Ltd. (NASDAQ: RIMM) is due early next year on the company's own new devices. Called Blackberry 10, the company is now considering how to make it possible for other companies to use the platform.
Blackberry 10 is built on QNX, a software platform RIM acquired in 2010. The first product based on QNX was RIM's Playbook tablet, but the company has licensed QNX to companies as diverse as Cisco Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: CSCO), General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), and Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE: CAT), which are developing or have developed machine-to-machine applications on the platform.
How does Blackberry 10 fit in? According to RIM's CEO:
QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector–we could do that with BB10 if we chose to. The platform can be licensed. … Smartphones are a part of our business, but we're looking way beyond this.
Is RIM just trying to make an omelet out of a pile of broken eggs, or is the company really on to something new and unique? Its smartphone business is absolutely tanking, so opening up the company's proprietary network to other industries and partners, all running QNX/Blackberry 10 applications, conjures up a powerful vision for RIM's future. Turning that vision into a reality is the hard part.
Shares of RIM are down about -4.5% in mid-afternoon trading today at $7.71 in a 52-week range of $6.56-$33.54.
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