Device operating systems

OS Watch: RIM Revisits Licensing BB10

In its bid to explore all possible scenarios for its BlackBerry business, BlackBerry says it's open to licensing BlackBerry 10 to other handset makers such as Samsung Corp. and Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) -- if they'd be interested in building for the operating system. (See RIM Open to Licensing BlackBerry 10.)

RIM CEO Thorston Heins told the Daily Telegraph that this was on the table, noting that the company doesn't have the "economy of scale to compete against the guys who crank out 60 handsets a year." Instead, RIM's working to differentiate on a focused platform. (See How Many BlackBerry 10s Must RIM Sell? and RIM CEO 'Not Satisfied' but Confident in BB10.)

Heins said it's only an idea at the moment, something that RIM is "investigating," but promised that whether RIM does it by itself or with a partner, it won't abandon its 78 million BlackBerry owners. (See RIM's LTE PlayBook: Better Late Than Never?.)

In other mobile OS news:

  • Frag Watch: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s Ice Cream Sandwich OS is now installed in 15.9 percent of Android devices on the market, a 50 percent climb over the 4.0 version's penetration level last month, as more devices have been introduced with the OS or been upgraded. The latest OS update, Jelly Bean, is still on less than 1 percent of Android devices. Updates have been a slow-moving process in the Android camp, with the 2.3 version Gingerbread still dominating 60.6 percent of all Android devices. (See Verizon Unveils the LTE Droid Incredible, Samsung's New Galaxy: A Data Hog Approaches and AT&T Issues Ice Cream Sandwich Updates.)

    Current Distribution of Android Devices

  • Windows Phone has a growth spurt: Android is still taking the world market by storm, surpassing 100 million in quarterly smartphone shipments, according to new numbers from Canalys.com Ltd. But it's Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) that's the growth story this quarter. The Windows Phone OS grew 277.3 percent in the past year, capturing 3.2 percent of the market, up from just 1.2 percent of the market. It's still much smaller than its rival, but that's positive progress ahead of the launch of Windows 8. (See Microsoft Sets a Windows 8 Timeline.)

  • Will Surface go the Zune route? Canalys issued the good news for Microsoft, but its analyst Tim Coulling didn't have nice things to say about its upcoming Surface tablets, labeling them "the next Zune" (i.e. a big flop). He tells InformationWeek that the devices will be too expensive and their direct sales model will be inadequate. Microsoft hasn't released pricing for its tablets yet, but Coulling expects them to start at $500. Canalys is advising Microsoft's OEM partners to postpone launching any of the tablets, due out in October, until the company rethinks its high license fee. (See Microsoft Surface Poll: Price Trumps LTE .)

  • Google Wallet gets upgraded: Google's loosening its purse strings and adding support for every major credit card, including Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover, in its Google Wallet service. An update to the software also includes storing cards on Google's server and the ability to remotely disable the Wallet app from the Web, helping to appease some safety concerns. (See How Secure Is Your Google Wallet?.)

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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