RIM Talks Up BBX, the Next BlackBerry OS

At its BlackBerry DevCon conference this week, officials from Research In Motion (RIM) pinned the company's flagging hopes on a next-generation mobile OS called BBX that it says combines the best features of today's BlackBerry OS with that of QNX, the basis for its PlayBook tablet. But onlookers weren't impressed: BBX seems to be a simple rebranding of BlackBerry's already-divulged OS product, and the company doesn't seem to be moving as decisively as is necessary in the face of rapidly declining market share.

"With nearly 5 million BlackBerry apps downloaded daily, our customers have made BlackBerry one of the most profitable platforms for developers," said RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. "At DevCon today, we're providing direction on how to best develop their smartphone and tablet apps as the BlackBerry and QNX platforms converge into our next-generation BBX platform."

RIM announced a series of developer-oriented updates to the BlackBerry platform, including new developer tools and a beta version of software that lets users run Android apps on modern BlackBerry devices. But the big news was BBX, the next-generation OS for all BlackBerry devices; RIM previously said that QNX, which the company utilizes in the PlayBook, would be the OS for all of its devices.

BBX "combines the best of BlackBerry and the best of QNX," RIM notes, and includes the BBX OS, BlackBerry cloud services, the new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics, and support for the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Developers can target this OS with native apps, Adobe AIR/Flash, HTML5, or via a coming runtime engine for Android apps.

But RIM didn't provide many details about when we could expect BBX, beyond a beta version of PlayBook OS 2.0. Many were hoping for a glimpse at future devices, especially handsets, but RIM was mum on that topic.

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