Rivals could release BlackBerry 10 phones before RIM's hit the shops

RIM boss Thorsten Heins has once again implied that his company is looking to license its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system to other manufacturers. This time, however, he also hinted strongly that the licensees will be able to get their hands on the next-generation OS soon.

If so, there's a distinct possibility that they could get a BB10 device on to the market before RIM itself, which has previously revealed that its first handsets will be available in early 2013.

Speaking to Bloomberg at its New York headquarters, Heins revealed: "QNX is already licensed across the automotive sector - we could do that with BB10 if we chose to. The platform can be licensed."

It is claimed that the new platform is in the final stages of testing, although there is no word on potential hardware partners as yet. Samsung has previously denied it is considering the possibility of licensing BB10, but LG, HTC and others are yet to comment.

In addition to the possibility of adopting an almost Android-style model for BlackBerry 10, it is being reported that RIM is also looking to expand its own hardware range beyond phones and PlayBook tablets. Bloomberg also writes that the company is looking to move into other areas of mobile computing and, what Heins himself calls, "machine-to-machine communications".

"Smartphones are a part of our business, but we’re looking way beyond this," he said.

Should RIM be heading down this route? Will it help the spread of BlackBerry devices? Let us know our thoughts in the comments below...