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The future of the BlackBerry could belong to a company that’s not RIM.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has hinted once again that his company could license BlackBerry 10 to rival smartphone makers.

“Before you license the software, you must show that the platform has significant potential. If such proof exists, a licensing is conceivable,” Heins told German newspaper Die Welt.

The line isn’t a new one for Heins, who told Bloomberg roughly the same thing last year. What is new, however, is the chance that RIM could sell its hardware division to another company entirely. Heins said he couldn’t rule out that possibility. (A RIM spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg today that a sale of the hardware division was indeed a possibility.)

The problem is that the move wouldn’t make much sense. As with Apple, one of RIM’s greatest strengths is its ability to create software that meshes perfectly with its hardware. That synergy would be completely lost if another company started making BlackBerry hardware.

Even the licensing deal is tough to swallow. Samsung, HTC, Nokia — there’s not a single smartphone maker for which BlackBerry 10 would be an attractive option. As a result, RIM’s efforts to license the operating system are unlikely to result in much interest.

While it’s too early to say whether RIM will succeed with BlackBerry 10, it’s clear the company is preparing for the possibility that it won’t.

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