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Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is rushing to unveil its new BlackBerry this year, and part of the challenge is to bring together the aggregation of sourced hardware and software that makes up the phone’s features. RIM, struggling to keep up with the growing domination of Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android-powered smartphones, has added key features to its next-generation flagship phone through multiple acquisitions and licensing deals despite once priding itself for its in-house engineering.
The most important part of the phone, its new operating system called BlackBerry 10, is based on technology the company got from QNX Software Systems for about $200 million in 2010. The software already powers RIM’s PlayBook tablet. The phone’s interface is based largely on technology developed by the Swedish company The Astonishing Tribe, which was also acquired by RIM in 2010. The camera technology is from Sweden’s Scalado AB, while the phone’s predictive touch screen keyboard comes from the U.K.-based TouchType Ltd., the Wall Street Journal reports. Other smaller companies have contributed to technology being used in features like video sharing, web browsing, messaging, as well as power traffic, and map-related apps.
Even though licensing technology is not new for smartphone makers — Apple also bought the technology for its Siri voice-activation software — RIM’s patchwork phone appears to be an extreme case. However, the challenge is in making sure that everything can come together in time for a perfect launch. New chief executive Thorsten Heins has promised the new phone by the end of the year, a commitment that will be important to keep considering the BlackBerry’s falling share in the smartphone market.
There have been some skirmishes already in the process of bringing together multiple talents. A few company employees were reportedly unhappy that former co-CEO Mike Lazaridis decided to keep The Astonishing Tribe headquartered in Malmo, Sweden. While Heins has tried to fix some of that intra-company competition, the challenge has also been to convince worried employees who think their jobs are in danger. RIM is currently in the process of exploring strategic options for the company.
“Anyone working on [the new operating system] is safe,” a RIM employee told WSJ. “Anyone working on legacy projects is preparing their resumes. I don’t know anyone that isn’t going to take a buyout if they offer one.”
There are clearly several pitfalls to avoid before the new phone, on which the company is relying so much, sees light of day.
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