RIM is pretty much up sh*t creek without a paddle. In fact, they don't even have a boat. They're knee deep in the stuff and they need to find a way out. The company is banking all their hopes and dreams on the newest version of their operating system - BlackBerry 10. Unfortunately, their own hardware might not be enough which is why they're turning to third-party manufacturers.
Speaking to The Telegraph, RIM CEO Thursten Heins acknowledges that his company can't compete with the OEMs that put out 60 handsets a year across all the different carriers. To combat this, the company is actively looking into licensing the BlackBerry OS to these OEMs.
It gets really interesting when Heins says that they may not license BlackBerry directly. They may go the Android route and just provide a framework in which OEMs could build upon. That means that these supposed third party phones would run a form of BlackBerry 10 with a custom firmware built on top of it.
It should be pointed out that none of this is set in stone yet. Heins said that on top of investigating the technical aspect of it, they also have to "model this from a finance perspective." He says that the company is working financial advisors to see where such a partnership would take the company. No matter their decision, Heins said that RIM "will not abandon the subscriber base."
Personally, I think it's a brilliant move. BlackBerry is actually a pretty solid operating system. The changes being made in BlackBerry 10 make it a good fit for enterprise and consumer solutions. The major problem with newer BlackBerry models has been that the hardware was lacking compared to the competition. A Samsung-made handset with the BlackBerry OS would actually be pretty awesome.