RIM Precedent: Will we be going hands-on with a QNX (BBX) BlackBerry Phone at DevCon, or will it be a "hands-on glass" tease?

By Kevin Michaluk on 7 Oct 2011 11:30 am EDT

Last year at BlackBerry DevCon we got the AWESOME surprise of the BlackBerry PlayBook announcement. I've been to a lot of Research In Motion events over the years, and my BlackBerry excitement level after seeing the PlayBook on stage that day was at an all time high. The only thing that would have been even better was if we had actually been able to hold and use RIM's first tablet at the event. Instead, we were teased with a couple of BlackBerry PlayBook tablets encased in glass (including a blue one - whatever happened to that?!), which only allowed for me to do our first "hands-on glass" PlayBook review per above. 

This morning I woke up with this year's upcoming DevCon and BBX phones on my mind, and I got a bit of a feeling of panic in my stomach. We were told on the last RIM earnings call that we'll see QNX BlackBerry development phones at BlackBerry DevCon this year. To me that means we'll get to actually hold and use a QNX BlackBerry phone at DevCon. But this morning it struck me that with the precedent set last year of putting hardware in glass following an announcement, we **could** see this happen again this year if the BBX phones are not quite ready for prime time yet (better increase my travel health insurance just in case... not sure my heart can take that kind of abuse teasing two years in a row). So that leads us to...

The Question of the Week: What are you expecting to see from BlackBerry DevCon this year in regards to QNX BlackBerry SuperPhones? Think they'll be out there for us to play with, or shown off in glass like last year? Sound off the in the comments with your predictions!

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RIM Precedent: Will we be going hands-on with a QNX (BBX) BlackBerry Phone at DevCon, or will it be a "hands-on glass" tease?


If they really do intend to release these phones in Q1 2012 it better be more than some behind-glass display.

Agreed. These phones have to be in early beta stages right now if RIM is looking to roll them out in the next 6 months or so...

Well given Rim's dependability i wouldn't hold my breath.
If only mike and Jim could be demoted and they could make Kevin the Ceo.

I'm hoping to that you guys actually have a change to see them up close and personal. I would love to see an awesome hands on video from you!

I'm thinking a keynote introducing the phones, then behind glass displays for the common folks but hands on for people of their choosing. This is what I've always thought...


Maybe, just maybe, they will have a skeleton OS in place, showing some navigation.

It really depends on how much they are deviating from the Tablet OS.


Except I think that there wouldnt be any hands on for anyone (no chosen ones either) as I dont think it is ready to be reviewed by a consumer yet.

I do not have much expectations anymore. If they can deliver what they promised that should be good enough...who cares if they will exist even to show their phones if the OS 2.0 is a failure. In any case do not raise the expectations too much!!!!

For RIM's sake they better have hands-on demos, if they are going to say that these phones will be ready in early 2012. What has me worried is the comment that was made by one of the CEOs that they didn't want to give away too much and tip off the competition. Well, that is hard to do if you are going to let people hold and play with the demo units. So, even if you get to hold it, it may be very limited, which will make you ask, why show it off at all.

Smart move would to put on a show with it. Disappoint the crowd with a lame announcement, then have an engineer (lab coat and all) run out with the demo device to the presenter. Might be chezzy, but it will generate buzz. And RIM needs BUZZZZZZ

I disagree. During the earnings conference call, Mike L said they're already testing the development phones. Thus, they should be able to let people actually handle the phones.

I hope the QNX superphones will be hands on...all I hope is that RIM does not announce these phones and proceed to take forever to release them resulting in them being a bit behind by the time they release! I cannot wait to see though!

I'm guessing that it could be as little as just showing the expected OS look of the QNX phones. Don't expect much and you'll never be disappointed.

There is no point in giving the game away to the competition at DevCon if the product is not released for a further six months (as the PB was). Shouldn't RIM take the Apple approach and keep things under cover until release date? At the same time they need to prevent further defections and give us a bit of hope. I would guess we are not going to see much in the way of confirmed hardware specs but more in the way of software GUI demonstrations. So I would say this device will be behind glass at DevCon.

Honestly, I'm more interested in BB Movies. I love the Playbook and my Bold 9930. The Playbook is getting new apps daily and the Bold is just sweet.

Would I like to see some hands on on QNX? Sure, but how urgent is that? I already got the best phone out there. QNX is going to have to fly and build me an island to switch my device.

Would I get a different tablet if OS2 is not released right then and there? Come on. It does everything I need it to do and it keeps getting better daily.

My guess is that Mike L. is tired of getting kicked around and the reason there have been, essentially, no upgrades although they have been working non-stop on things is that he wants to deliver. But, either way, I got the stuff I want.

Of course, they really need to show some behing the glass QNX Phones, that would help to restore more confidence on what the company is doing. Also present some results and or plans with all the companies they have bought via adquisitions lately. A lot of money has been spent and they for sure need to prove that all the money was worth it.

Recently it was posted that carriers were testing the new QNX phones but they wanted LTE on them (ATT&T and Verizon???) If one of those make it to DevCon for a hands on and manages to excite the crowd and RIM manages to push one LTE model by Q1 2012, RIM will be unstoppable again.

However I think it was a mistake to show the playbook too early last year. RIM the buzz was already slowing down by the time it made it to the market and not all features were ready giving the playbook bad press and ammunition to heaters. I truly hope the QNX phones do well, and RIM doesn't repeat past marketing mistakes.

I know we all here at crackberry want to know what blackberry is going to come up with and when but the open consumer market wants the devices announced right away or the masses move to the next gadget they can get their hands on.

I don't really care if they are on a glass cage. It could really just be something like they did for OS6, featuring the UI and OS capabilities. Just let the world know that the superphone will be indeed super.

The world economy is in the dumps. Companies are not going out on a limb with new technology. Most companies are hoarding their cash. During these times we generally see very little new technology development from established companies. So, like Apple, I wouldn't expect much at DevCon. There is no hurry to roll-out phones with QNX. If Apple is their competition, RIM won't show their hand until the iPhone 5 drops. RIM will continue to improve their products and release a new phone when the market is ready.

We've seen QNX on the Playbook. So, there's no big wow if it shows up on a phone.

i understand that RIM is in trouble so they need to get these BBX phone out soon especially since they said a while a go to be aiming for calendar Q1. but why do they always show a device six month before it gets released?? playbook showed at DEVCON oct-2010 did not hit the market until late april 2011 thats 6 months, then againg with the OS7 devices showed at BB WORLD in may nobody got it until late aug. apple showed the "iphone 4s" on oct 4 you can pre-order on the 10th, get it from the stores on the 14th on 3 carriers in the US who knows how many overseas. anyone see a problem RIM momentum dies by the time the devices hit the market

I am hoping to generate interest in it they would have the QNX phones tethered to a display so people can hold and demo them. That would be the best way to generate development interest in to the QNX phones/OS.

What Mike said during Q2 earnings call

We recognize that the current availability of content and applications for PlayBook has limited the near-term uptake of the device in the market, and we are actively working with key partners to deliver the most desired applications and content to our targeted market segments.

Rather than easing these enhancements out little by little into the market, we are planning to bundle a number of significant features and enhancements into a new major software release for PlayBook that will be demonstrated at DevCon in October and released thereafter. The ability to push out upgrades over the year to PlayBook is a significant advantage, and both existing and new PlayBook users will be able to benefit from this new software release when it is available.

Some of the key enhancements that we expect to be delivered in the PlayBook 2.0 release are: built-in native email, calendar and contacts; robust enterprise features, including BlackBerry Balance to allow management of personal liable devices; the previously announced Android app player; enhanced web browsing; the availability of new consumer apps and social -- the availability of new consumer apps and multimedia and video content, including BlackBerry video store, which will have 10,000 movies and TV shows available on demand to buy or rent as well as new movie releases on the same day as DVD availability; and of course, with the built-in HDMI output, the ability to enjoy videos on your TV without the need to purchase additional system components, as well as further improvements to BlackBerry Bridge.

We continue to work with gaming partners like Unity, Ideaworks Labs and Electronic Arts to bring new and exciting games to the QNX platform. Ideaworks Labs' Marmalade is now available to developers in an open beta, and the company is working to support[ph] some of their existing games over the next few months with some, like, Battle Balls already released. We also have teams targeting the delivery of major media, gaming and productivity apps that customers are demanding, and we will provide more details next month at DevCon. The upcoming PlayBook 2.0 launch is a prime example of the power and flexibility of the QNX mobile operating system, which allows PlayBook users to experience major upgrades and features, content and functionality for free through a simple, over-the-air upgrade that is pushed out to the device.

Additionally, we have promotional plans in place for the fall intended to drive both enterprise and consumer adoption of PlayBook, including special incentive programs for enterprise, a loyalty program for existing BlackBerry customers and rebates in consumer channels. We are confident that these activities will generate an increase in demand and sell-through in Q3 and into the holiday season.

Development efforts on the first QNX-based smartphone products are going extremely well, and we plan to ensure that when we launch, the product will have the features, industrial design and content and app ecosystem it needs to deliver a dynamic and industry-leading customer experience. The development platform for QNX phones will be presented in more detail at DevCon in October, and prototype phones, featuring the QNX operating system and development platform will be available in the not too distant future.

We have learned the importance of ensuring an established vibrant ecosystem is available prior to commercial launch, and our QNX smartphones application environment development and final industrial design will be released into the market based on this experience.

My take: OS2.0 released in November, before US Black Friday, and QNX phones encased in glass during DevCon, sorry Kev.

Playbook OS 2.0 will be released at Devcon. The whole paragraph about getting the ecosystem up and running before the release means that they'll probably give out prototype phones to developers and let them at the Native SDK (ie Google). They probably have the hardware already developed for the final version as software has always been their bottleneck.

They've been working in the hardward since the Playbook development, so its probably just a matter of getting the OS ready which Tablet 2.0 puts that closer to reality with PIM, email, video, native sdk, app player, and bbm. Expect an all touch screen development phone with a very aggressive release date for the first phone.

Unlike the Playbook, they wont try to shop this around the globe to enterprise before release and wont face delays because of software.

I'm thinking they better impress at this years DevCon. Another Playbook like surprise would create the buzz and excitement again. I fear that this is one of the company's last chances to grab new users/interest before people start receiving other smartphones for the holiday season. But if they do "pull out the big guns", hopefully that will prompt some people to wait.

What are the odds that they'll say "here's our new latest device, the BlackBerry Torch 5X, running the BlackBerry X OS developed by QNX. You can play with it and get in-depth demos over in the next room, and they will be on sale November 6th at most major carriers, with the Bold 9X coming out on the 11th. Also, PlayBook OS 2.0 will be released in 3 days, and you can get demos of that in the far room. With that you can try out our new Android player and BlackBerry app player, as well as our video store and our demos of or USB OTG setup for printers, keyboards, external hard drives, and other miscellaneous accessories. "

I would love if they said this, but I'm more expecting "here's a video of our new phones and a bunch of posters. They should be out in the first half of 2012."

I think we will be pleasantly surprised with what they show us at DevCon. I’m thinking “real” hands-on. The ONX platform was still so early in development at last years DevCon when the PlayBook was announced. Although we haven’t seen it on a handheld yet, the platform has matured a lot since then and I think we will be able to see nice working prototypes.

i guess it just depends on how long and far into the process they are in with the qnx blackberry superphones.. but would be good if they let everyone at devcon have hands on experience with the new generation of blackberry phones.. excited to see the look and features they are looking to put in the new superphones.. and get them out asap so it can compete to other phones that are already out.. they did a good job with blackberry 7 phones but still a few things missing in blackberry that other phones already have

Am i the only one not satisfied with a puny 7 inch display?
Until they can get to 9 inches which is about the perfect size (IMO) i will never be getting a PB or at least until is ridiculously amazing.

I love my 7 inch display. For a portable tablet, it is perfect. Still though, I would like to see some other form factors of the PlayBook as well, but instead of 9 or 10 inch version like most people are thinking/wanting I say go BIG to 12 inches. At that size it can really be used as a laptop replacement and has a large enough screen to do split-screen multitasking. You then have the ultra portable 7 inch PlayBook and then workhourse beauty 12 inch. Plus the 12 inch would look more premier and grand compaired to the other tablets on the market.

I expect that you will see an empty glass display case with a sign reading as follows: "QNX phones - trust us, they are coming soon after a 60 day announcement which will be given in the summer of an unspecified year in the future." :)

Bring on DevCon :)

unfortunately for RIM, it's dammed if they do, dammed if they don't. A hands-on demo of a QNX phone would be great, but it won't mean much if it's just a shoehorned playbook. "Yeah, we've seen this on the playbook".
Regarding hardware, I seriously doubt that it'll knock our socks off and will guarantee that it won't match the hardware being released in 6 months time. If it's a 4+" touchscreen only device (most likely), they'll get slammed for it. If it has a querty, they'll get slammed for not being touchscreen.

Well that's where I think RIM might be a little bit ahead of the game . If they "shoehorn" a PlayBook into a phone , with some added features . And if all the PB apps are compatible with the phone the same . That will be another jump . They are probably working all the bugs out of the email now , because it will be the same program on the phone . That would make it closer to a hands-on demo than one under glass .

We keep seeing references to QNX "Superphones". Is anyone else worried by this? Is RIM setting expectations too high? Remember "The First Professional Tablet"? How did that tagline work out? A "professional" tablet with no e-mail and no apps (I have one). If RIM keeps saying "superphone", then whatever they release better blow away the Galaxy S II, the iPhone 4S, Nexus Prime, etc. Look at how much grief Apple got for not meeting the iPhone 5 hype. RIM doesn't have the resevoir of goodwill that Apple has, after the 4S starts shipping they'll sell by the millions. Like Kevin has said, RIM MUST make this 1st QNX phone a homerun. If it launches without turn by turn talking navigation, Facebook, Twitter, Kindle, bulletproof messaging, etc then they are going to get drilled and it will be like the Touchpad launch. I hope they're paying Dev's whatever they want to deliver those apps on launch day!

I hope RIM has accepted & learned the painful lessons of the recent past (Torch, PB, etc) and constructive criticisms from users/ fans (like Crackberry, op-ed letters from developers, etc)

Personally I want to be impressed. I want to see a device ahead of its time hardware & OS wise (front face camera, LTE, 1080p video recording, etc etc). Not just the most advanced Blackberry, but the most advance mobile device period. I want to see all the recent RIM acquisitions fully implemented (QNX, TAT, UNITY, Ideaworks, EA, etc).

Provide evidence of why RIM executive management should keep their jobs. Prove that their company culture has changed for the better and grown stronger.

Make the Crackberry heads out there proud.

Kevin, please don't falsely raise people's expectation. Mike never said in the last earnings call that QNX development phones will be shown in DevCon. He only said the development platform would be presented at DevCon, with prototype phones available in the not too distant future.

To me, the development platform could just be a simulator program and a SDK.

yep, as much as I would love to say that they will have live units to play with I just don't think that is gonna happen. When people see these things live the expectation is that they are going to be near perfect. RIM knows this, and everything we have seen leads us to believe that this isn't the case yet. No we will see carefully crafted demo videos and hardware behind glass as usual. New phones will not make it to market in Q1 as predicted but rather early Q3. I wish it wasn't the case but anything more than that just isn't realistic.

Sadly I am expecting more disappointment. I hate to say that but RIM needs to step up to the plate already. I HAD to jump to an iPhone 2 months ago because two apps I needed are not BB supported. I went into the swap thinking I will use the iPhone for a year or two and then switch back to my trusted companion but after 2 months I can count on one hand what I dont like about the iPhone and it just works.

Glass or not I just want to see the layout of the os and what specs they plan on putting in their new phone. Their strategy for development/eco-system and how they plan on integrating their acquisitions and what devs/companies are behind them in this push forward.
A time frame would be awesome

Apple has come out with a fabulous voice assist they call Siri. RIM must do the same for QNX, only the feature will be called sucki

Kevin needs to go back an listen to the earnings call or at least read a transcript. RIM said:

"The development platform for QNX phones will be presented in more detail at DevCon in October, and prototype phones featuring the QNX operating system and development platform will be available in the not too distant future."

That means no phones, only the development platform will be shown and phones will be shown at a later date.


Last sentence in the fifth paragraph.

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Becuase RIM said there would be no phones at DevCon.

Kevin needs to go back an listen to the earnings call or at least read a transcript so he doesn't continue to falsely report this. RIM said:

"The development platform for QNX phones will be presented in more detail at DevCon in October, and prototype phones featuring the QNX operating system and development platform will be available in the not too distant future."

That means no phones, only the development platform will be shown and phones will be shown at a later date.