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BlackBerry to go open source?

BlackBerry might allow other manufacturers to make phones based on the OS, which would lead to a range of new BlackBerry smartphones.

Research In Motion, which makes BlackBerry phones, may be looking at making the operating system open, which will allow other manufacturers to make smartphones using the platform.

“We get a lot of offers to make BlackBerry operating system open for other manufacturers to manufacture phones based on this OS. But we are yet to take a call on that,” said Carlo Chiarello, senior vice president, smartphone business at RIM.

Though he did not confirm it directly, the key thing here is that there is no denial from him.

Please note that today, RIM and Apple are the only companies that make their own smartphones and have their own mobile operating systems. Samsung also makes a few phones on its Bada platform, but makes phones on and Windows Phone too.

On the other hand, Android is an open operating system, which is also the biggest reason for its popularity. Microsoft’s Windows Phone mobile operating system is also partly open and many companies like HTC and Nokia make smartphones on the platform.

HP has open sourced its recently though there are no devices on it yet. Samsung has also announced its plans to open source its Bada operating system. There are several other open source mobile operating system projects in the pipeline like Tizen and Ubuntu.

While BlackBerry might allow other manufacturers to make phones based on the OS it is unlikely to allow others to modify the OS in a big way any time soon.

BlackBerry has shown signs of getting into the wider ecosystem by allowing security and management of non BlackBerry devices through BlackBerry enterprise server, by launching BlackBerry Mobile Fusion. It has also started supporting Android apps on its PlayBook tablet.

Letting others manufacture products based on would be the next logical step for RIM. This will not only bring in wider choice to consumers; with more BlackBerry devices to choose from, it will also help it reduce pricing. Right now the cheapest BlackBerry phone costs around Rs 8,500 while Android phones with better features and of good quality start at Rs 7,000 in India.

BlackBerry has been struggling to retain its market share in the smartphone space, which has been weaned away by Android and iPhone. And a move to get the benefits of a wider ecosystem is certainly an interesting proposition of BlackBerry.

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