Reboot in Motion: Licensing BB 10 vs BB Messenger

There is a lot of chatter in the Technospere about Jim and Mike stepping down from their co-CEO roles  at RIM and making way for the COO Thorsten Heins (the first?) to helm the good ship BlackBerry out of troubled waters and back into clear seas. It’s interesting that one of small pieces from this morning’s press event to take on steam is the mere mention of licensing the new QNX OS ( BB10) which has yet to be deployed on any real device yet.

Heins is open to the possibility “if it makes sense strategically and tactically,” but he’s not making it a focus for RIM — the company will still focus on its own products, much like “another fruit company,” said Heins.

via  The Verge.

Most will argue that the real value of the RIM is in its BlackBerry Enterprise Server and communication tools like BlackBerry Messenger & email .  If Dumb and Dumberer had succumbed to analyst pressure and opened BBM, the ship would have already sunk by now.

The BES is actually one of the biggest chips that RIM has these days. There are still many large corporations in the world that prefer to issue BlackBerry smartphones to employees rather than embrace the “bring-your-own-device” culture mostly because of an existing infrastructure of BES. Offshoots of BES also support PBX qualities and enable a modicum of decent unified communications offerings. With Mobile Fusion, RIM has expanded this functionality to other devices, such as the iPhone and various Android devices.

via ReadWriteWeb

So what is the value in licensing an OS that is quite secure but not very mature? Not much, unless you are trying to garner support and partners in building up  the platform. However you also lose all control over the symbiosis between hardware and software.

People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.

-Alan Curtis Kay: Creative Think Seminar 1982

As Kay had prophesied 30 years ago, letting go of that control you have over the hardware will inevitably lead to loss on software integration and  hinder innovation. Would the Apple iOS team have bothered with gesture based controls and auto screen rotation if there hadn’t known about the accelerometer and gyroscopes being put into the iPhone.

And yet RIM does have some software that is worth licensing out, there is now better mobile device management suite on the market better at securing and controlling a device better than the BES. By the same note, the BBM messaging tool is a very powerful and secure tool coveted by C-Class execs, IT Groups,  criminals and rioters. Licensing it outside of the closed BlackBerry world would be very tempting for a new CEO trying to give the shareholders some dire return on their investments. Sadly, I fear that is would also be the last nail in the coffin for a user base that is seeing its confidence severely eroded by incompetent leadership and a bad technology road-map.