Will Research In Motion's first BlackBerry with a QNX-based operating system feature a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 8-megapixel rear camera, an ultra-thin body, and a touch-screen sans physical QWERTY keyboard?
If a leaked device image published on The Verge is accurate, along with the associated specs, then the upcoming smartphone will indeed feature all these things. Supposedly code-named London and due to arrive on store shelves in June 2012, the publication reports the device is "roughly the same size as a Galaxy S II." The smartphone in the photo features a user interface certainly reminiscent of RIM's PlayBook tablet, which also features a QNX-based operating system, although The Verge cautious that "it's likely the screen is nothing more than a static image."
It remains to be seen whether the device, if actually hardware produced by RIM, turns out to be a one-off prototype or an actual indicator of the BlackBerry's future direction. Its silver frame and hard edges represent something of a deviation from RIM's current design language, which tends to emphasize black plastic and softer curves.
RIM plans on replacing its long-running BlackBerry OS with that QNX-based operating system, termed "BBX," sometime within the next few quarters. RIM hopes an upcoming generation of "superphones" running BBX will help the company regain traction as a viable competitor to Apple's iOS, Google Android and Windows Phone.
RIM has offered precious few details about BBX's user interface. According to an Oct. 18 statement released by the company, the operating system will "support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook ... including native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps." That suggests BBX will interoperate with RIM's PlayBook tablet.
RIM also plans on delivering a long-awaited software update to the PlayBook in February 2012. According to the company, additions will include integrated email, a "new video store," calendar and contact applications, and better tethering between the tablet and a user's BlackBerry. RIM is also tweaking the device's manageability options and enterprise application deployment, with plans for a separate area within BlackBerry App World for enterprise applications.
Research firm Nielsen estimated RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market at 18 percent through August, behind both Google Android (43 percent) and Apple iOS (28 percent) but well ahead of Microsoft (8 percent).