BlackBerry VPs Chime in on PlayBook QNX OS on Phones

Yesterday we had heard from one RIM VP that BlackBerry smartphones would, in the long haul, be loaded up with the QNX operating system running on their recently-announced PlayBook tablet. Though that one source hardly locked down the possibility of such a switch, some fellow bloggers have prodded VPs on the matter and yielded comments that mostly confirm our suspicions. Alan Brenner, BlackBerry Platform VP, said “there’s no reason to rule it out,” and Alan Panezic, RIM’s VP of Platform Product Management said the switch would be a “logical conclusion.” Although ambiguous, these are both pretty affirmative.

The QNX operating system promises to bring stability, low power consumption, and solid multimedia performance to the BlackBerry PlayBook, backed by the beefy dual-core 1 GHz processor and 1 GB of RAM. The tablet form factor is better suited than smartphones to take advantage of the multimedia capabilities of QNX, but there’s really no reason why the company’s longstanding experience with low-power machines couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be brought to bear on RIM’s core smartphone business. After attending a session on the platform here at DevCon, it’s plainly obvious how similarly-aligned priorities lead to RIM acquiring QNX earlier this year.

When the PlayBook is released in early 2011, developers will be able to run old-school BlackBerry apps in QNX in a kind of compatibility mode (think of iPhone apps on an iPad). However, given the added commentary from Brenner and Panezic, it wouldn’t be insane to presume that in time all BlackBerry apps, for tablets, smartphones, and otherwise, will be built for the same core operating system. Such a transition will have plenty of hurdles in and of itself, but you can read more about those over here.

From what we’ve seen of the UI, the QNX OS will probably look a lot like BlackBerry 6 if it eventually wriggles its way to handhelds, even though it might behave a little bit differently behind the scenes. Personally, I’m looking forward to it since QNX really is the BlackBerry OS rewrite many have been asking for. What do you guys think – will QNX usher in a new golden age for BlackBerry and give them the fighting juice they need to compete with Android and iPhone?

[via Bloomberg, Pocket-Lint]

  • SomeInformedGuy

    This is *exactly* what RIM needs to get ahead in the apps market. The maybe-possibly possibility of cross-compiling Linux apps to QNX means that RIM might, sort-of, possibly get Flash working on the Blackberry, putting them in a strong position to compete with the iPhone and Android devices. The dearth of native software, made up for typically by recompiling GNU software (which sometimes actually works) assures that there is already a ton of software for the new devices, and that the dev team will be able to adapt quickly, as will third-party developers. That’s not even mentioning the wealth of installed users who utilize the powerful multimedia capabilities that you’ve mentioned. All 10 of them are quite satisfied.

    In all seriousness, QNX is a great operating system by any standard of judging OS’s, but the choice of QNX is to “sort-of kind-of” get a platform lock in, an OS that’s slightly better adapted the mobile devices than Linux, and to have an easy-in for third-party developers who want to invest a little time into the Blackberry platform. The company has some great tech, and with a couple of big contracts like this, they could do really well.. but just try loading QNX on your desktop and tell me that you want to use it on your mobile phone rather than the competing options.

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