RIM lifts skirt, flashes 'new' OS at devs
QNX rebranded BlackBerry BBX
The PlayBook will get push email and BBM support just as soon as the BlackBerrys get QNX, which has been rebranded BBX to make it seem shiny and new.
BBX, announced yesterday at BlackBerry DevCon, is RIM's new best hope. The Canadian firm calls it a "next-generation mobile platform" while everyone else is calling it a new OS, but really it's just QNX ported onto phones and with the much-awaited support for BlackBerry Enterprise Servers (BES).
Not that there are any phones, or even a version of BBX for the much-maligned PlayBook, at least not yet. The announcement at the developer conference focused on providing SDKs and beta versions, along with specifications, but RIM has not given even a rough timetable for a commercial release.
Those SDKs do include an Android runtime, so applications developed for Android can be submitted to RIM's App World too. There's also a native library, and support for Adobe AIR, though as AIR already provides the PlayBook interface atop QNX that's not so surprising.
Most importantly, and not in the betas, BBX will support RIM's BES services, so pushed email, BlackBerry Messenger chatter and all those other corporate applications will finally run on the PlayBook as well as on forthcoming BlackBerry handsets.
Developers wanting to be ready for BBX, but unwilling to develop apps specifically for the distinctly limited PlayBook-owning demographic, are recommended to use HTML 5 and RIM's WebWorks environment, which works across all the company's existing, and forthcoming, platforms. ®
QNX is just another kernel
My big complaint about all this is that QNX seems to matter to their marketing people.
QNX is just another UNIX style operating system. It has a tiny little microkernel and a fairly simple message and event passing system (similar to Windows' event structure) and most other things POSIX. I have no idea if they kept that nasty ass clunker called Photon GUI around, but GUI systems are easy enough to come by. And since everything on the phone is pretty much Java based anyway, then the underlying OS didn't mean anything anyway.
Let's face it... if everything is pretty much written for Java, then the operating system kernel beneath it is of no real interest to the consumer... or even to the developer. Maybe they added an accelerated API for accessing the GPU and maybe they added and accelerated API for performing 2D graphics processing (OpenVG works well), but or the most part, all that matters really is the quality of their java virtual machine.
There are dozens... maybe hundreds of Java virtual machines out there... hell I wrote one many years ago. It's not that hard... though getting it right (I.E. garbage collection mainly and dynamic compilation) can be a tremendous task. But even then... it should make no difference to anyone since when programming, one JVM is the same as another from the developer's perspective.
The QNX thing does bother me. I have a pretty good understanding of QNX (having used it on and off for 20 years, often in major projects) and worked directly with the QNX developers. It's a nice and functional OS, but it DOES have a full TCP/IP implementation and so far as I know, it's never been a target of hackers. Especially with NFC payments and MANY people banking from their phones etc... I'm extremely concerned that they have used such an unproven IP stack on their devices. It strikes me that Blackberry will be the new best target for phone hackers trying to steal account information. It just makes sense. Apple's use the BSD network stack and has been hardened... well since the very start of TCP/IP. Google is using the Linux IP stack... probably the most hardened TCP/IP stack in existence at the moment. And RIM is using the QNX IP stack... a proprietary glob of gunk.
Now... if I were to want to steal money from a bunch of BlackBerry phones without actually doing it through hiding a trojan in an app, I would find a copy of the QNX kernel source code (which WAS open source at one point) and then I'd go through it and find buffer or messaging weaknesses in the system and then I'd exploit it as such. And the best part is... the majority of Blackberry users I've seen are either teenagers or guys who wear expensive suits for a living. Those guys could lose bunches of money and never figure out what happened.
The way BlackBerry is going, their quality will eventually sink to those depths.
"the much-maligned PlayBook"
Every time I read that phrase I recall the months and months of pre launch hype coming from RIM telling anybody who was willing to listen how great the PlayBook would be.
How do these CEO's get themselves into such a delusional state I wonder?
Really, when it all boils down, this was Steve Jobs main skill. He was able to look at a prototype and so "nope, that sucks, go away and don't come back until it's done properly"
QNX is a proper OS, developed and maintained by someone who knows what they are doing.
Then RIM bought the company, and seem intent on doing a Nokia. I feel sorry for all the other users.
Stop fiddling about with the names of things, and farting about with press releases, and get on and make something new.
How about a server-based digital secretary, so you can say things like "find out when Frank is going to be in Scunthorpe, and get me a hotel on the same night"? Or persuading app developers by charging a penny per time for using an app instead of buying it outright, then splitting that 50/50 with the developer? coming up with some innovative calling systems - like getting your calls routed to both landlines and blackberry simultaneously, so you can answer whatever is nearer? Having the whole sales force's blackberry ring when someone calls the sales hotline, so the first one free picks up the call?
It seems to me that most of these can already be done, and that RIM is loosing ground by the day. Renaming the OS is a distraction that won't help.
"Stop…farting about with press releases, and get on and make something new."
Hey!! What's the rush? RIM have plenty of time to get new products to market. The 2013 holiday buying season will see LOTS of new devices...that should have been released for 2010.