BlackBerry is devising a new way to make some much-needed cash.
BlackBerry has been on a bit of a resurgence, at least in mindshare, since releasing its first Android phone. It hasn’t exactly turned the company’s financials around, and it has since licensed its named to TCL in order to shed the cost of developing hardware. That arrangement has TCL design and build the hardware, while BlackBerry maintains the software. It’s a good arrangement.
Soon, BlackBerry may have that arrangement with other companies. The Economic Times reports that BlackBerry is in talks with various (unnamed) smartphone manufacturers to license its “BlackBerry Secure” OS — built on top of Android and including the Google Play Store. BlackBerry phones have consistently received monthly security updates at the beginning of each month, but they lag on feature updates for a long time. In addition to smartphones, BlackBerry is also looking towards building an operating system for televisions, wearables and medical devices, as well as Internet-of-Things (IOT) devices as a whole. The arrangement sounds similar to Cyanogen’s initial business plan, but hopefully, this would end with better results.
This arrangement makes a lot of sense for BlackBerry, which desperately needs the revenue.
On paper, an arrangement like this would make a lot of sense for BlackBerry. As Microsoft has proven, there is an awful lot of money in software licensing, with very few costs and risks compared to hardware development. BlackBerry already has a similar arrangement for its QNX-based software. QNX has low hardware requirements compared to other operating systems, making it suited for infotainment systems and other embedded systems that typically use older hardware. BlackBerry builds and manages the lower parts of the operating system, while vendors control the user interface. This gives vendors a distinct brand identity while also making sure the system is viable and secure. When we get robust theming control built-in to Android, it’s not hard to manage a similar arrangement could work for smartphones that use Blackberry Secure.
BlackBerry has talked about licensing its operating systems before, back when its hardware ran BlackBerry 10. Now that its phones run Android, the risks are much lower.
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