RIM's BlackBerry smartphones will eventually run a version of the open-source QNX operating system that will debut on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, a RIM executive reportedly confirmed.
A version of the QNX operating system,
which will debut on Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet PC,
will eventually also run on RIM's BlackBerry smartphones, a company
executive reportedly said.
Sept. 28 that an unnamed RIM vice president, during a breakfast event
at the BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco, confirmed that
QNX, over time, will find its way onto BlackBerry smartphones and
eventually replace the current BlackBerry OS. However, the move could
take some time, and BlackBerry 7 likely will be used as a transitional
OS of sorts until a full switch to QNX is made, the RIM executive said,
according to the Website.
RIM introduced the PlayBook at its DevCon conference Sept. 27,
offering limited details about the long-rumored device, which will go
on sale during the first half of 2011. While RIM has geared the tablet
toward its long-time core audience of enterprise users, the natural
comparison is to Apple's iPad, which proved instantly popular with
Despite posting strong revenues, RIM has in recent quarters been
losing U.S. consumer market share to Apple's iPhone and smartphones
running Google's open-source Android operating system. With the
PlayBook and its new QNX OS, the market will be watching to see if RIM
has created the winning device it has been in need of to protect its
brand image and hold on to subscribers.
While RIM is hardly alone in having a tablet in the works-Hewlett-Packard is working on both Windows- and webOS-running tablets,
and Samsung and Dell each plan to release 7-inch, Android-based tablets
in time for the holidays-its approach to its OS is rather unique.
"Android tablets ... appear to be going down the same path as the
iPad, using an OS originally designed for Android smartphones," Ken
Hyers, an analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK.
"Though the Android OS is arguably more sophisticated than the iPhone
OS, using a smartphone OS to run a tablet seems to be a case of failing
to take advantage of all of the capabilities inherent in a tablet form
factor. The Playbook's QNX OS
has been developed from the ground up for the tablet computer. Hence it
is able to support greater technical capabilities, such as a more
powerful processor and more memory, and hopefully better graphics
capabilities than the iPad."
Transitioning the tablet-based OS to BlackBerry smartphones creates a promising scenario for RIM, said Hyers.
"Rather than seeing a less-capable device (the smartphone) donating
its OS to a more-capable device (the tablet), the more-capable device
will lead the way," he said. "When the BlackBerry gets the QNX OS, the
OS will have been extensively field tested on the tablet, meaning that
smartphone customers will not have to put up with buggy software that
hasn't been properly tested."
The open-source QNX is also far more likely to attract application
developers than the BlackBerry OS-even the new BlackBerry 6 OS that
RIM launched Aug. 12 on the BlackBerry Torch.
IDC analyst Al Hilwa, in a Sept. 28 research note, described RIM as
implementing "aggressive changes in its strategy" with the introduction
of PlayBook. Hilwa added that PlayBook points to RIM "finally
understanding the value of open source and analytics to developers" and
wrote that tablet's DevCon introduction may go down as "the day RIM
began to get its mojo back."
Michelle Maisto has been covering the enterprise mobility space for a decade, beginning with Knowledge Management, Field Force Automation and eCRM, and most recently as the editor-in-chief of Mobile Enterprise magazine. She earned an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University, and in her spare time obsesses about food. Her first book, The Gastronomy of Marriage, if forthcoming from Random House in September 2009.