Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis confirmed that the company’s BlackBerry smartphones will eventually run the QNX-based operating system poised to debut on the company’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.
“By focusing on the tablet market, we see an opportunity to free where the smartphone can go,” Lazaridis said at the San Francisco D: Dive Into Mobile conference Dec. 7, according to Reuters. “When we have multicore processors across the board, they’ll all be running the PlayBook platform.”
Lazaridis didn’t, however, offer a timeframe for when the switch will occur.
RIM acquired the QNX software earlier this year from Harman, which had deployed a version of it, as audio and “infotainment” systems, in millions of vehicles. That the software would become the basis of the BlackBerry line, replacing the recently released BlackBerry 6-or, more likely with time BlackBerry 7-was first reported by IntoMobile.com in late September. At a breakfast event during the BlackBerry Developer Conference, an unnamed RIM vice president disclosed that the switch would happen eventually.
After some delays, RIM is scheduled to launch its PlayBook-a competitor to the Apple iPad, though with an enterprise angle-during the first quarter of 2011. The device, however, seems to still be receiving some last-minute polishing, as on Dec. 2 RIM announced that it had purchased Swedish software developer The Astonishing Tribe (TAT) to enhance the tablet’s user interface design.
According to TAT, its Cascade UI framework has contributed to 20 percent of the smartphones that shipped in 2010, and in a post on the Inside BlackBerry blog, RIM CTO David Yach enthused that “TAT focuses on delivering great user experiences, from a design, technology and usability perspective.”
Joining RIM in the competition to steal tablet market share from Apple will be Samsung, which plans to make its Galaxy Tab available through 140 carriers globally, including the four top U.S. wireless carriers. With an excellent head start, Samsung confirmed Dec. 3 that it has already sold 1 million of the devices. (In October, Apple announced that it had sold 4.19 million iPads during its fiscal fourth quarter, which was up from 3.27 million the quarter before.)
Dell currently offers a 5-inch tablet called the Streak, and will soon begin offering a 7-inch version, and sometime next year Hewlett-Packard will offer a tablet running Palm’s WebOS platform. (Jon Rubinstein recently explained that there’s still debate about whether the Palm name will remain, or future devices will be branded as HP.)
Research firm Gartner, in an October research note, predicted that sales of tablets will reach 19.4 million units in 2010, before climbing to 54.7 million in 2011, 103.4 million in 2012 and 208 million in 2014.
“As media tablets move from early adopters to mainstream, media tablets will become a family purchase as well as a personal one,” stated the report. “The touch user interface, the applications available on the different operating systems and the simpler setup compared to a full-fledged computer make media tablets ideal for a range of consumers, from power users to technophobics.”
While RIM has not disclosed sales estimates for the PlayBook, reports Reuters, analysts have put the figure at between 2 million and 4 million units.