RIM VP Confirms PlayBook QNX OS Will Replace BlackBerry OS

Over a breakfast event today at the BlackBerry Developer Conference, a RIM VP confirmed that the QNX operating system announced in their new PlayBook tablet would in fact be finding its way to smartphones in the long run, and ultimately replace the existing BlackBerry OS. Of course that kind of major transition would take time, and he said BlackBerry 7 would likely be a stepping stone to a full switch.

This confirmation isn’t a huge surprise, considering all of the great things QNX is bringing to RIM. After seeing what QNX was about yesterday, there seemed little reason for Research In Motion to not adopt the operating system full time for their smartphones; the OS has a mind for stability, lower power consumption, efficiency, a wide variety of developer platform support, as well as rich multimedia capabilities ranging from Flash to 3D rendering. Some existing BlackBerry apps will be able to run on the PlayBook, but details are still hazy on what real-world interoperability will be like.

With all of that being said, it seems like RIM is getting ready for a lengthy transition to the new OS (rather than, say, the amputee strategy Microsoft took with Windows Phone 7). Whether or not app developers are willing to sit in that dual-OS limbo for long is another question altogether.

  • If you’re going to transition to another OS, wouldn’t it have made more sense for them to go with Android? Then they could have focused on the messaging, mail, enterprise support that sets them apart, and leave the OS, app store, etc. to Android.

    • Google, the carriers and the users of Android are being sued right now by Oracle. It’s better to stay away from an OS which is going to die due to copyrights and trademarks.

      QNX is a RTOS, which none of the current players: iOS, Win7, Android can support.

      The apps store will begin to grow again, slowly.

      • Guest

        One thing to take into consideration, is the fact that Android (from what I understand) is a derivetive of Linux (correct me if I am wrong). Android was not developed with security in mind. Blackberry has made a bold move to use this RTOS (FAST) and stable O.S. to replace BB OS. It will allow they to maintain there own O.S. code base, giveing them more control over the direction of development. I am very excited about this change.

  • J

    Not really. RIM wants to see an enterprise app + service while HTC just wants to flog hardware.

    So HTC doesn’t care that much what Android does to the underpinning as long as the OS is still useful and free. RIM’s Blackberry apps, however, can be totally destroyed by a major API change in Android.

    So RIM cannot afford to use Android for fear some bit of software genius suddenly breaks their apps.

    QNX was a good choice for a kernel, since IIRC it’s avionics grade software. Combined with a speedy GUI there’s no reason it can’t make a rock solid OS. The funny thing is their basic app stack sounds very similar to WebOS. Wouldn’t surprise me if Blackberry doesn’t include the SDL graphic library and add just enough WebOS-like java/script functions that it’s just as easy to port 3D iPhone games to Blackberry as WebOS.

    Angry Birds was ported to WebOS before Android because it was so darned easy even though there were tons more Android users. If it’s as easy to port to BB-QNX as it is to WebOS, even the relatively low volume sales of the Playbook (compared to say Android or even a single phone like the Galaxy S) would justify a decent library of games.

    Yeah, I’m a WebOS user but I’m realistic and appreciate the effort Palm put into making it easy to port iPhone games.

  • Jay

    Android is like a can of worms, it is better if RIM stay away from them as J mentioned the shortcomings and added to that the ASP’s will come down drastically as RIM need to compete with cheaply made phones like HTC, Motorola etc. More over QNX is more powerful that iOS and Android because it can scale and is future ready. If they provide right tool set it is not long enough that we will see BB OS surpassing Android in Apps category. More over I think number of Apps are over stated these days and I don’t think there are no more than 200 useful applications and also the current generation browsers are capable of doing most of the things already.

  • RIM has already announced a BlackBerry runtime for the PlayBook so Java BlackBerry apps will run just fine, so it’s less a dual O limbo and more a four app model banquet (QNX/Java/HTML/AIR). Android doesn’t have any of the things RIM cares about.

  • A new OS for notebooks/tablets and smart phones is always welcome, cause it would keep the competition alive. Thankfully, RIM doesn’t seem to be hurrying about the whole thing, trying to come up with a half baked idea.

  • “Thankfully, RIM doesn’t seem to be hurrying about the whole thing, trying to come up with a half baked idea.”

    I agree Tathagata. I don’t think anyone would say they have rushed to this point.

  • Intosh

    Wow! It’s sooo refreshing to read insightful, reasonable and balanced comments about RIM and other OS’, besides Android and iOS. It’s a nice change from comments on other sites (*cough* Engadget *cough*) where people ask without reasoning that every company convert to Android.

  • huntdawg

    it’s all about the security and enterprise issues and thus why they went with QNX. come on now, would they really want to go android if you can root the phone and such? I’d rather have the software that runs nuclear power stations and air traffic control than something that can be a fun weekend project. I’m not bashing android as I have an android phone myself, but this is clearly a good strategy for RIM and they obviously don’t want to be seen or fall like ahem…. PALM did…. lol they rather be acquring the goods than let another acquire them!

  • John

    I think it will rather simple to port existing apps from the other OS’s. I was reading an article on another site where they talked about porting the flash 10.1 player. Adobe told the guys at QNX to give themselves 6 months; they did it in 6 days.

  • 15 years ago QNX was my favorite UNIX platform, company I was working for, was using it as a server OS for their console applications. It was fast stable and reliable. I was big fan, hoping that one day someone will take this little UNIX to mainstream. It is cool to see 2 Canadian products working together to make both products better. 🙂

  • I’ve been a QNX developer since 1982 – I have serial number 0008. It has always been one of the best kept secrets in the computing industry. A company I worked for from 1988 thru 2005 used QNX to develop and deliver enterprise manufacturing cell control applications and tools. What we did would not have been possible with any other OS available at the time, especially for the deterministic real-time requirements we had. To me, it is a natural for mobile applications – small micro-kernel architecture, robust programming model, support for industry standard tools (Eclipse, GNU compiler suite, Java) and applications, POSIX compliance, integrated networking. I could go on, but find out for yourself what a joy this OS is to work with.

  • Cub Miller

    QNX is a superb OS. The only reason it has not gained momentum is their marketing mistakes, just like IBM did with OS/2, which was much better than Windows from the beginning, but they were no able to come up with a good marketing plan and ended up selling it to Serenity Systems. Even now, 20 years later, Windows is still not as good, safe, reliable and stable as either QNX or OS/2 were back then.

    Hopefully RIM will not repeat the marketing mistakes of previous owners. I have great expectations from this venture.

  • KG

    I have just recently purchased a blackberry bold 9650 from verizon.  I wish I would have done some research before doing such.  I am not well versed in OS and I was acting based upon my past experience with the blackberry bold being a great phone.  My question is, what does this mean for me and my blackberry and what should I look to do with this phone?  As in, should I keep this phone for a while until this new OS is out?  Lol someone please help and give me some advice.

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