Struggling with falling market shares, lower Blackberry shipments and the recent outage of service for users across the country, mobile phone and tablet maker RIM is in a difficult position. Inroads are quickly being made into what was once exclusively their territory by both Apple and Google, and the company is hoping that its newly-announced cross-platform OS, BBX, will be what puts them back on top.
BBX is a combination of the Blackberry OS and the QNX platform which RIM acquired last year. Together, they create BBX. But this is an entirely new animal – apps that work on current versions of the Blackberry and PlayBook OS won’t work with BBX. The company hopes, however, that the all-inclusive nature of the OS will make up for the fact that users are going to have to update all of their apps and favorite programs. RIM intends this version of their OS to work on all of their tablets and smartphones as well as in users’ cars, in enterprise-scale business, and in the cloud.
There is no release date for the new BBX as yet, something that disappointed many of the press and tech sites covering the announcement, but RIM indicates that both smartphones and tablets should see the new OS in 2012. While no smartphone or tablet was shown running a demo of the new OS during the announcement, there is speculation that the Blackberry Colt will be the first smartphone to use BBX, and that it will be released in the middle of 2012.
BBX comes with a number of notable features, starting with the fact that it is open-source, allowing developers to create apps in whatever environment they are comfortable with and then port them over to Blackberry’s OS. BBX is therefore expected to have a large variety of apps to choose from, and while it won’t run old BlackBerry OS apps or iOS apps, it will run Android, Adobe Flash 11 and Adobe Air 3. In addition, Blackberry Email users can likely expect and update from the current Blackberry Enterprise Server that handles business email to a more cloud-friendly version that will sync their mail on the fly. Whether this will come in the form of Exchange ActiveSync or another type of syncing has yet to be announced, but it should provide a more streamlined experience for business users.
RIM’s strength has always been to play to the business market, something they are clearly taking aim at with the BBX announcement. In addition to ensuring that their enterprise-level functionality is improving, however, the company is also looking to add better support for games, design, and mulch-platform app designs with their new OS. Additionally, its ability to work in a vehicle – QNX already works in over 200 vehicle types – is something that RIM hopes will put it ahead of the competition. BBX promises a great deal, but with no release date, only time will tell if the new OS can get RIM back on track in time.