Reading between the lines: Bringing the BlackBerry Tablet OS to the Smartphone "Isn't the hardest thing in the world to do"

Jim Balsillie Web 2.0 Summit
By Bla1ze on 16 Nov 2010 05:26 pm EST

While appearing at the Web 2.0 summit today, RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie was placed on the spot to answer questions surrounding Research In Motion, their upcoming products and finally their future. A lot of questions were asked near the end, one that stuck out was a reference to when Research In Motion was going to bring a better experience to their line up of BlackBerry smartphones. This is where things get interesting; Jim Balsillie then referred to the BlackBerry PlayBook and its tablet OS making the statement  "It's not the hardest thing in the world to repackage these things". When reading between the lines that could really be another way of saying that QNX will be the next operating system for BlackBerry smartphones.

While most of us upon seeing the PlayBook figured that was likely to happen, Kevin's been saying since WES that the future of BlackBerry smartphones phones lies in the QNX OS. With statements such as the one from Balsillie today being made, it only leads to reason that eventually we'll be seeing QNX arrive in a smaller than 7" packaged form and personally, that kind of thinking makes me excited for the next BlackBerry platform. In addition to all the "non talk" talk about future devices, Balsillie was also asked about any upcoming NFC integration for BlackBerry smartphones. His reply to that was simple, of course RIM will be looking at NFC integration. "We'd be fools not to have it in the near-term, and we are not fools".

Reader comments

Reading between the lines: Bringing the BlackBerry Tablet OS to the Smartphone "Isn't the hardest thing in the world to do"


Has anyone who has worked with the PlayBook development tools see how the applications could be scaled between multiple form factors?

They are losing ground fast and it is all do to the lack of consumer friendly features. The Storm 3 is their chance to make a real statement in that regard. What better way to do that then to bring the QNX OS to the Storm 3.

Who is losing ground? RIM? Not likely, they will come to dominate business/corporate users even more than they do now. Pay attention

Actually this isn't quite as bad as you are thinking. Percentages are funny things. Basically way more manufacturers are coming out with Android-based phones. These are not only the high-end Droid X and HTC phones you are thinking of but a lot of pretty basic phone that are largely irrelevant to RIM's market. Suddenly these pretty basic phones are included in the percentage figures the market is expanding at a quick pace and that doesn't mean RIM is nose-diving.

Also, you ar right that many people were switching from BB to Android and iPhones, but give them a QNX-based Blackberry phone which means no-compromise on OS plus BB quality and input choice (keyboard) and security and they'll switch back even faster.

Please no follow-ups saying I'll never switch to BB crap, I'm talking QNX OS not OS6.

The market grew more than RIM lost so its not like RIM is loosing sales. Its just the industry is growing so quickly and RIM is not growing as fast, but that will change and they will regain market share.

Good RIM - tap into the "transient", poor community for the future of the BlackBerry. Kind of goes against the core value prop from 2-3 years ago, doesn't it?

RIM might just be mopping up Nokia's blood, but that's not a strategy - that's weakness which will spell doom for RIM.

And just wait until more governments demand BIS on their soil.

RIM is losing more market share than is indicated in these surveys.

Whereas you *had* to have a BlackBerry (or Windows Mobile, which worked poorly) to get corporate email, now *anyone* can get corporate email (provided your company opens up OWA or uses an alternative email server/service) with an Android device, iPhone/iPod Touch, Win7 Mobile, Nokia/Symbian, or webOS.

Oh - and for those who want to fly the RIM flag on how "easy" it is to get a device on BES - it took me (with my 10th BlackBerry) over 12 hours to "re-sync" with BES after a bug took out my "Desktop" service.

In the interim, I configured my iPod Touch. That took 10 seconds.

RIM is screwed.

I'll take that bet too. Nooo way on earth there will be an announcement b4 christmas. Heck, d rumors probably won't start in full force till late Q1 next year if anything.

It was the look on his face re: some of the questions asked. Like a whoa, hold up...did you just ask that foolishness? Seemed fitting, lol.

If you listen carefully, he says something about within 30 days........
I actually think by then RIM will announce a new product for sure.

More info and demos about the PlayBook coming in 30 days. Think he was referring to the PlayBook SDK and apps, as opposed to AIR that they already showed off

I didn't miss that, he said 30 days and hinted heavily how this could be moved to another platform easily.

This is great and I just hope that RIM makes the Storm 3 has some balls or we will hear the same tune by all of the piss aunts about how blackberry have only done enough to please us bb fans but the rest of the world will be sticking to there IOS/Android/WP7 devices.

You are certainly not being greedy I too have a torch and yes even though we have and enjoy the new OS6 syestem does not mean we do want the new and advance os...I mean come on if its that easy to switch platforms than its that easy to upgrade it to the phones...I'm just saying I want the new syestem without buying a whole new phone because I will do just that

So obviously you believe the hardware in your phone will run the Playbook OS?? How would you come up with that? Read more

Wow- imagine QNX on a phone- I guess its only a matter of time!

I love my 9700- I wouldn't swap- I'm not interested in Androids or iPhones. I want a big business phone, not one where I can download over 200 fart apps!


He says, "...We are not fools." But you have to wonder, if they are not fools, then how did they let things get to the point they are? Not launching the PB BEFORE Christmas is one such foolish decision. Sure we want it to be ready when it launches, but their R&D should have had it ready! Same with BB6; they didn't plan ahead and allow their prior hardware to be ready for it - all because of a little extra memory? QNX may be great, but WHEN? Not Fools, you can prove it by their actions/planning.

I think you are being too tough, You look at a nice car and say whay can't other just mimic it? The rality is it is hard to build things right.

I don't think RIM are fools, maybe they got a bit too arrogant? but realyl I just think they were caught by surprise ragarding how their phone took off so fast and how iPhone marketing (and good looks) sucked so many in.

They are turning the ship around and I think doing it much faster than palm. With QNX I think they are in the game long term.People want flash (and I don't mean adobe) and with QNX RIM can deliver.

Do you want it fast? a la iPhone 4 or do you want it right? I'll gladly wait until Feb/March and get a product that isn't going to be all hype and problems eg antennagate. They are doing this the way a proper business should. Be patient

Maybe when 4g is everywhere, like late 2011, or 2012.

Hard to get that excited about something so far off. I would buy a BB with that OS on it.

RIM has the capital, ability and technology to deliver amazing products. IF they can, why not just do it already.

RIM is a business, they supply superior products to satisfy the demand of their customers. They know well who those customers are. They are not losing market share in any way that matters to them, they are not a reactionary company. Percentage wise, yes they are behind some, but numbers and percentage of their core market, they are further ahead avery day. Look closer at the numbers, all of them, and use your own judgement, not another manufacturer's. Yesterday, Balsillie said he wouldn't comment on another companies' product when pressed about Nokia. Well done, now compare that to other companies, eg, Jobs, he never hesitates to slag every and any other company to his own ends. That is a sign of many things, I have been in business for over 25 years, and he is shitting. So please try to make a more informed comment here. RIM will bring out the superior PlayBook, they will offer phones running the same OS and they will continue to grow and dominate the same way they do now.

Come on, man, wake up a bit: RIM stock price has taken a nosedive since the beginning of 2010 (basically when all the Androids invaded the market), they are not making shareholders happy. The simple announcement of the Playbook has helped the stock in the last month, since investors are hopefully hoping that RIM is waking up. That's why you see so much marketing and "leaks" for the Playbook, gotta keep that stock price up.

Now to your point, the Playbook does look sweet, and if RIM can translate the OS into their smartphones, I bet you'll get back some of the Android/Apple crowd who were disgusted with weak offerings like the Storm, or even the new Bolds.

As for Steve Jobs, he is expected to mouth off. That's what he does, and that's what his investors expect. Don't count him off, he managed to basically create a new market for tablets when everyone on the Internet was laughing at the name "iPad".

I don't know enough about NFC but Bluetooth 2.1+EDR (IEEE 802.15.1) offers low-power support at a longer range with high bandwidth and much better security. With a short set-up time of about 1 second, I don't see what NFC will provide that Bluetooth 2.1+EDR won't.

It is totally possibly to bring QNX to a smartphone. Since Palm has already been doing it with WebOS. Since RIM copied their OS, why not copy their migration process too?