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back to article RIM lifts skirt, flashes 'new' OS at devs

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, …

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Gold badge

New Nokia

RIM are the new Nokia. Plenty of sound software (QNX is very scalable) but rather outdated form factor and a general lack of quality.

It's all very well doing a Microsoft by hyping up products and planning to rule the world, but that seems like damage limitation when you've lost 4% marketshare in one year.

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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.

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FAIL

Meh

So at some point it might be half as good as my iPad2!

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Meh

Yes

The way BlackBerry is going, their quality will eventually sink to those depths.

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Anonymous Coward

But it will never reach the stinking depth of the android's shite.

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Meh

So they showed he OS to the DEV's

Was that one CEO per DEV? and who dealt with the dog?

Whilst QNX is nice etc few obvious observations.

1) Given the current device OS isn't that unstable then what does this offer the customer

2) Given the current device OS is standards secure then what does this offer the customer

3) Will this make the back-end more secure from outages - NO

4) How will this help grow the littering of BB dev's given the current showing of the dev platform (ie playbook) was applauded in being such a pain to develop for that people went public with there distaste for this.

These are just a few things that stand out for me having given this 4 seconds thought.

Now future use - given other smartphones looking at quad-core and the like and android already has a VM layer why not look at offering this as a alternative phone OS/phone VM ahead of that market - ie innovate. This would capatalise upon there niche of a email service, though would reduce them to being another application to some. Though I'm sure one day I'll be able to buy a samsung phone and have the option of booting android or windows - its going to happen and why not.

Whilst the playbook hasn;t realy done them may favours it may have highlighted one area they should be looking at - a cheap kindle like device that ran QNX and you could do your email upon, indeed partner with amazon and become there messaging partners as would help you both. Bit a cheap communications don't care about DIVX and youtube and flash or indeed colour kind of basic kindle like tablet for email would of been a more logical choice.

RIM do email, email don't need flash graphics now does it. Had they done that then they would be selling now - heck kindle like device with RIM's email services would be realy nice and usable device - but I'm not one of the CEO's they have, clearly.

The only real concerns I have nowadays is what damage by being in RIM's hands will QNX suffer now as it did have a realy good reputation and when I played with it for a few projects eons ago it realy did stand out for the job of realtime usage.

For there offerings etc and feature sets RIM phones are overpriced by far and that is not helping them nomatter what OS they ran. Indeed if RIM phones could run IOS5 or Android etc then I'd dare say they would still sell in the same numebrs they are now, sadly enough. But I personaly wasn't a fan of them biasing towards consumer markets and think it all has gone downhill for them since the pearl and them dropping a realy functional and useful jog-wheel infavour of the drunk nipple with inbuilt navigation speed-limiter by design.

I would also say most people are of the oppinion that RIM will be brought out and it's been a question of who and why hasn't it already happened. But when that has been the flavour of the day for near on two years now then you wonder how much further can RIM implode. Maybe there service by design is not a good fit and after all its realy a few pattents that everybody else have worked around and a email service that others have started to do as well in a more distributed way that affords no central death - even if it is 3 days to replace a faulty switch which even 20 years ago was uneceptable downtime for such an issue.

I hope they do something special and live on but even "next-generation mobile platform"''s need something ontop as even a sidewalk is a platform for mobile phones in noise speak and they sure do be looking at that gutter fast.

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Silver badge

Corrections.....

1) Given the current device OS isn't that unstable then what does this offer the customer

QNX is highly robust so should not be a step backwards. QNX probably does a better job when looking forward to multi-core devices etc.

2) Given the current device OS is standards secure then what does this offer the customer

QNX is highly secure, so this should not be a step backwards.

3) Will this make the back-end more secure from outages - NO

That won't change anything on the phone per se, but moving backend software to QNX would not be a bad idea. QNX is really good for managing failure switch-over etc which is one reason it was (and maybe still is) used extensively in ATM systems etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Flogging a dead horse.

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Unhappy

Poor BBM

So fast up, down so quick. It 's like nobody thinks they have a chance anymore.

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Pint

@nobody thinks they have a chance

They don't. It became obvious when iPhone has got Yahoo! push mail support, then gmail's

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Brilliant strategy

They launched a Blackberry tablet that may one day be compatible with Android but isn't compatible with the only application that anybody buys a Blackberry for!

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distraction

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.

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FAIL

FAIL

After the BB outage, how many users are considering switching from the platform? They're going to have a really hard time getting new users, much less keeping their shrinking user base, as is.

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Anonymous Coward

As an ex-Nokian I can only feel their pain and the dizzy head from circling the flush..

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Anonymous Coward

Buck Up

RIM need to buck their ideas up now. What i find disappointing is all the people who originally opted for a Playbook and supported the company when they needed it and what have they received in return ?

Still awaiting software updates that were demonstrated months and months ago and also promised months ago too. Not sophisticated stuff either, basic email client/contacts/calendar. What the hell were RIM thinking of, releasing a tablet without this functionality in the first place ?

The Playbook hardware is more than good enough, the screen is pretty damn good, but its let down by insufficient software.

Get on the case now RIM, you really need to do this to keep your existing user base on your side.

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Anonymous Coward

QNX Disc

Anyone remember it? back in the Dos days?

Man that was a fun disc, you could add on and build it up.

if it's that QNX and you can add on and build it up it's a great idea in my opinion.

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Boffin

All platforms have their ups and downs

Nokia / Windows have far, farrrrr, too many phones that look identical but the compatibility with the most familiar PC OS a plus, but not a plus enough for me to buy it.

Apple is very simple to use and for the masses, does everything you need it to, but it's very locked down, not as compatible and very expensive.

RIM have very popular handsets and have done very well adapting from being purely business to being one of the first choices on the Christmas list of the spotty teen. But the software has little external support and people want more from their device than one team of developers can offer.

Android is still, in my opinion, too techy for the masses, most hardware manufacturers have got round this with slightly different versions of the software but it's a bit like the mobile version of Linux, great if you know how to get the best out of it. But with openness comes innovation, which drivers improvement.

In a nut shell, if you want simple and have money, Apple. If you don't have the dollar go for Nokia. If you want innovation and are willing to learn go Android... So were does RIM fit in?

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Anonymous Coward

Please

Won't someone rescue QNX and WebOS so they could be combined into a project that isn't run by poor management.

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Facepalm

"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.

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FAIL

hehe

"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"

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Anonymous Coward

I've had an Android phone (Nexus S) for nearly a year, I use K-9 Mail and Swype. Before that I had every Bold since the 9000 (up to the 9780). I can say with certainty that for getting stuff done BBs trump Android every time IMO. BB's mail GUI is far more intuitive and as good as Swype is, I frequently get predictive typos that can take as long to fix as writing the actual message. Battery life is also a bone of contention with Android.

I switched cause the grass certainly looked greener, and for a few things it is -browsing, media, apps, etc.

When the 9900 comes down in price I'll be going back, ultimately I want a phone for communication. I've got other stuff for consuming media that do a better job than the Nexus.

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To me, the most interesting part of this announcement was the android stack that allows them to run android apps. Granted, they'll probably run dog slow, but this sounds like it might be a viable option to get around the near total lack of BB developers. Tempt some android users over who like the idea of decent email and messaging (and haven't heard about the outages), whilst still being able to use their old apps.

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Lawyer fodder already

Basis International has the Trademark on BBx for their Business Basic eXtended ... it has been on the market for 20 years or better.

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