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January 22, 2013

RIM Would Consider Selling Smartphone Business

Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins would consider selling RIM’s Smartphone operations, he revealed in a recent interview with German newspaper Die Welt.

Although Heins has publicly stated he is open to licensing the company’s software, this is the first time he has talked of leaving the manufacturing business completely.

Both options, however, are dependent on the success of BlackBerry 10, which RIM will launch Jan. 30. If the new device helps RIM to reclaim a slice of the Smartphone market currently dominated by Android-powered Samsung devices and Apple’s iPhone, it would make BlackBerry a more desirable acquisition.

“Before you licensed the software, you must show that the platform has a large potential,” Heins was quoted by Die Welt (as translated by Google). “First we have to fulfill our promises. With such proof, a licensing is conceivable.”

If the Canadian company does sell the manufacturing side of the business, it would focus its energies on licensing software. On the other side of the coin, RIM could also opt to continue manufacturing its Smartphones and license to other companies such as Samsung.

A strategic review will be carried out after the debut of BlackBerry 10 so the company can weigh its options, Heins said.

The newest BlackBerry devices will be unveiled at multiple events worldwide. RIM will reveal its first two BlackBerry 10 Smartphones along with details on the devices and their availability.

“In building BlackBerry 10, we set out to create a truly unique mobile computing experience that constantly adapts to your needs,” Heins said in a statement.

“Our team has been working tirelessly to bring our customers innovative features combined with a best in class browser, a rich application ecosystem, and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities.  All of this will be integrated into a user experience — the BlackBerry Flow — that is unlike any Smartphone on the market today.”

BlackBerry 10 has been constructed to fuel productivity, increase efficiency and allow users to make informed decisions, Heins revealed during RIM’s BlackBerry Jam Americas 2012 event in September.

The BlackBerry 10’s processing is “closer to a laptop,” while offering a mobile user experience with just the touch of a finger, Heins said. He also described the device as sleeker and lighter than its predecessors.

The BlackBerry 10 truly will be the beleaguered Waterloo, Ont. company’s last chance at redemption.

With a net loss of $235 million in the last quarter, RIM desperately needs its new Smartphones to be a success.

RIM has one advantage over the competition, however: top-notch security. RIM announced last fall it had secured a key U.S. government security clearance, paving the way the BlackBerry 10 to be the device of choice for the feds.

RIM said its BlackBerry 10 received it U.S. Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) certification. Translation: the devices can be used to send classified data between government employees.

The rigorous testing the BlackBerry 10 has withstood may also give RIM an advantage in the business market. Fifty phone carriers from across the globe have tested the devices. The carriers, which RIM declined to name, were checking to ensure the new devices are compatible with their systems.