RIM to unify phones, PlayBook under BBX OS

Apps developed for the QNX-based platform will work across phones, tablets and embedded systems

Research In Motion introduced a common platform for smartphones, the PlayBook tablet and embedded systems under the QNX operating system on Tuesday, calling it BBX.

Developers will be able to write software for BBX and have it work across all those hardware platforms into the future, RIM founder and co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said in the opening keynote at BlackBerry DevCon in San Francisco.

The company emphasized open-source development for BBX, saying it would provide almost 100 open-source libraries and make more available in the future, including ones contributed by app developers. At the same time, the platform will include a secure kernel so enterprises can feel safe creating apps for it, RIM said.

The BBX operating system underlies the platform along with BlackBerry Cloud Services, on top of which developers can write apps using HTML5 and RIM's WebWorks or with the company's native SDK (software development kit) and open-source code.

Developers from Motek Mobile, a BlackBerry consumer applications shop in Waterloo, Ontario, welcomed the news.

Wes Worsfold, president of Motek, said RIM's strategy hasn't been clear enough. "Today, it's very clear," he said.

Aaron Barnes, a developer at Motek, welcomed RIM's increased emphasis on open source. Over the past few months, RIM has accelerated its strategy of helping developers share their own software components among each other, he said. Those can be shared as plug-ins, and the most popular will be integrated into future releases of RIM's WebWorks development platform itself.

A heavy emphasis on games in the morning general session was probably driven by demand, said Barnes, whose company doesn't develop games.

"People have been starving for games," he said.

It was critical for RIM to let developers know that what they create now can be used on future devices, said ABI Research analyst Jeff Orr. Though the company had said it would bring QNX to handsets, it wasn't clear whether the OS on phones would be the same as on tablets and on embedded systems such as cars, Orr said. Those platforms all have different requirements, and the OS could have been different for all of them, he said.

RIM is also taking steps to make it easier for developers to jump into creating apps. Developers now can download the native SDK for the PlayBook and start writing an app, without having to register until they submit the app for approval.

The company spent much of the morning's session showing off games developed for the PlayBook but also had news for enterprise developers. There will be an Enterprise AppWorld, a store for enterprise apps, in the future, RIM said.

The stakes are high for RIM at DevCon following a long wait for key features on the PlayBook, anticipation of next-generation phones running QNX, and finally a widespread service outage last week. The timing of the problem was poor, coming the same week Apple introduced iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S. The next version of Android, called Ice Cream Sandwich, is expected to be announced on Wednesday.

There was no more specific news about the future QNX-based phones or a new version of the PlayBook in the initial session. Lazaridis told developers that RIM is still working on root-cause analysis on last week's outage.

Though still profitable, RIM has been struggling to keep up with Apple's iPhone and the many Android devices hitting the market. Last month, Nielsen reported that in the previous three months, just 9 percent of those who bought a new phone chose a BlackBerry, compared with 28 percent who bought an iPhone and 56 percent who picked Android. IDC has predicted that RIM's share of smartphones in users' hands worldwide will fall from 16 percent to 14 percent this year.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Jeff Orrresearch in motionMotek MobileABI researchWes WorsfoldAaron BarnesmobileMike Lazaridis

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?