Research In Motion shares shot up 10 percent at the opening bell Wednesday thanks to an analyst report suggesting that Samsung, the world’s top handset seller, may license the BlackBerry operating system, says Mobile Business Briefing. Shares retreated by half during the day and Thursday Reuters reports that Samsung has denied any interest in licensing BlackBerry 10 or in purchasing RIM, which has fallen from grace as more nimble competitors have passed it by. None of this should surprise, however.
Samsung could be playing coy, of course, but I can’t think of even one good reason for Samsung to even entertain the thought of licensing an operating system that isn’t yet on phones. The company is already the top seller of Google Android devices, for starters, which according to IDC earlier this week, accounted for 68.1 percent of worldwide smartphone sales in the last quarter. Of that market, Samsung sold 44 percent of the devices, meaning nearly 1 of every 2 Android phones sold last quarter was a Samsung.
Let’s take this a step further. In June, Google said that it activates one million Android devices per day. If Samsung accounts for 44 percent of that figure, the company is selling 440,000 smartphones each day on average. And the trend has been up: each quarter for the past 18 to 24 months, both Samsung sales and Android activations have grown. Add in the continuing success of the recent Galaxy S III handset and the trend should accelerate. In other words: Samsung is doing just fine without BlackBerry 10.
Keep in mind that Samsung already licenses another mobile operating system too: Microsoft Windows Phone. While sales of these phones haven’t been stellar, Windows Phone is starting to show some signs of life lately. And my late 2011 prediction of Windows Phone holding more market share than BlackBerry by the end of 2012 is starting to look more possible by the day; although it may be close. Samsung’s already paying Microsoft a license fee for Windows Phone; why spend more money to license yet another platform that’s losing momentum?
It’s possible that RIM gives Samsung — or another handset maker — some sweetheart licensing deal just to gain market share, but even at free, it doesn’t make sense for Samsung. The company would have to divert production resources and software engineers away from its popular Android phones towards BlackBerry devices.