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 newsletter!

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

Tags mobileresearch in motionABI researchMike LazaridisMotek MobileJeff OrrAaron BarnesWes Worsfold

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


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2018

Roam freely in the digital world. Critically acclaimed performance and security at your fingertips.

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?