By now you may have heard that the WSJ is reporting that RIM is introducing a new operating system to use on their upcoming tablet, which may even launch 4th Q of this year. The new OS is based on a core designed by QNX Software Systems. Who are these guys? They build an OS to use on industrial products (like nuclear reactors) and according to them it’s designed in a way that it cannot fail. See, where other OSes are a large system with lots of parts, QNX opts for a lot of mini-tasks with the idea being that the OS cannot fail and if any portion of the OS fails then that singular portion can reset itself without bringing down the core and this applies to drivers, protocols, apps and file systems. It’s also allegedly a small and light OS. Let’s keep in mind that this is not a GUI. In other words, this is just a core and not what you’ll see in the shell the user interacts with. So there’s the background behind where this is headed.

Putting what’s going on behind the scenes, this means that Blackberry OS 6 may be the last version of that OS. So, yeah, just like Windows Mobile 6.5 (6 must be unlucky in OS world). This is a full reset and there is not expected to be backwards compatibility. But don’t think a new OS can’t be done. See Windows Phone 7, Android (only 2 years old), Maemo heck even iOS is only 3 years old. And as we know the mobile markets are set to explode over the coming years so there’s room for all platforms to grow. Blackberry also doesn’t have too much to lose in terms of leaving behind a marketplace or apps since that’s always something they’ve struggled with. And it’s clearly time for them to compete in a world where people expect something more than a simple email device with BBM and you need an OS that you can move to larger platforms (like tablets) if you want to develop an ecosystem. Also, the infamous fragmentation doesn’t apply too much to Blackberry because of the lack of apps and RIM controls the hardware and software so they ensure basic OS compatibility. And they were able to pull this off without announcing a new OS, telling developers and consumers to stay away from their products and then wait 8 months to release the thing (yeah MS I’m looking at you). With that said, if they forget that their core users are people seeking fast and easy email and BBM without a fuss then they can do positive harm.

We’re looking at some interesting years in the mobile world. I’ll say that much. What do you guys think? Round of applause to RIM for reading the writing on the walls or is the industry too cramped already?

via BGR


  1. You had me at nuclear reactor OS guys.

    Maybe they know how to make software that doesn’t fail in the sense of crashing but doesn’t fail in the sense of not managing to recover the market share throne is another story.

    To an extent I’d like to think it’s about the best technology will win, but a lot of it is about brands, not new operating systems, and Blackberry used to be the brand associated with what everyone else has so I might as well issue everyone in my company that too, and the brand associated with being no frills, no games, no cameras etc. There was a market for such phones, a big one. There was a time where people in management who knew little about phones and it went like this for them “Hey, we need phones. Which is the simplest phone? Just something so people can call and email, nothing else. Blackberry? I heard Lehman Brothers uses Blackberries. We’ll take 70.” That’s what happened at my former company at least.

    Then the iphone and eventually Android shows up, and I bet the Blackberry people and their fans were thinking Yeah, they’ll be somewhat popular among kids but not people conducting business that’s so serious that they should have their own BES. That’s a big enough customer base, one that will usually deny their employees’ requests to use iphones on the company system and instead have two phones to carry around, that we have a comfortable lead among other guys that won’t go away.

    This is a peripheral trait of their brand (at least it was news to me), but one worth mentioning: Apparently a lot of people overseas thought they had nothing to worry about in terms of being spied upon by anyone, especially the government, and RIM let them down on that one to anyone who asked.

    But those other phones got so popular and enough people, including people with Blackberries, began to see what could be done on the likes of an iPhone or Droid, that companies left and right are now allowing their employees to use iPhones and Android phones. The CEO’s kid got a Droid, can’t help but show it off to his father, manages to dazzle the father with Compass Mode Street View, next thing everyone’s getting Droids.

    Retrospectively if I were RIM what I would have done is create a sister brand, Blueberry, to take on Apple and Google head first with touch screens and fast GPUs and Nintendo integration and Netflix, all that jazz. No frills on one side and the opposite on the other. Between the two brands and lines of products I think they’d still be in front now.

    Oh crap you posted this a month ago? … damn.

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