There Can Be Only ONE - BlackBerry 7 to merge the Best of BlackBerry 6.1 and QNX?!

BlackBerry 7 - There Can Be Only One!
By Kevin Michaluk on 30 Mar 2011 04:48 pm EDT

RIM is an interesting (and confusing?) spot right now as it's juggling operating system platforms as they push forward on development of the PlayBook's QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS and also work on BlackBerry 6.1 which will ship on the next generation of BlackBerry Smartphones. Beyond that the OS details have been relatively scarce and it has been leaving all of us CrackBerry addicts with some key questions, like Why is it taking so long to get these 2011 BlackBerry Smartphones out the door? and What's QNX on a BlackBerry Smartphone going to look like?  

Thanks to word coming to us via BerryReview from notes taken during a RIM internal developer keynote given by CTO David Yach today, things are starting to make more sense. Here are some of the highlights from the presentation: 

  • A big portion of the talk is focusing on the benefit RIM will get from centralizing processes and tools
  • One of the key reasons OS 6.1 is falling behind schedule is miscommunication between teams in the critical path of the project
  • He didn't focus on the problems as much as how RIM is going to solve them by easing conflicts in the critical path
  • There is a new project "Highlander" using the concept from the movies "There can be only one"
  • This project is taking the best features from OS 6.1 and the QNX OS to make OS 7. This seems to be where the rumors about OS 6.1 having a QNX core are coming from
  • RIM is "very happy" with OS 6.1 but is struggling with losing the features users love
  • OS 6.1 is almost 10 years old and has pushed its limits
  • Still they are very happy about the "Liquid Graphics" in OS 6.1 adding a WOW factor to BlackBerrys
  • This new OS 7 will also be the OS for the Playbook down the road. Seeing the theme of "there can be only one" ?
  • RIM is still in the "early stages" of OS 7 with a target of 2012

Listening to RIM's 4th quarter investors' call last week, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie made it clear that the company is going through a big transition right now and this information really sheds great insight onto what exactly that transition entails. Right now RIM is trying to push forward the development of two separate operating systems as the PlayBook and 2011 Phones get pushed out to market, but the real end goal here is to kill the fragmentation in the company and focus and centralize efforts, from tools and processes right down to the operating system on both tablets and phones. The aptly nicknamed "Highlander" OS 7 should bring the best bits of the traditional BlackBerry OS into the new QNX platform, upon which both the phones and tablet os will be one and the same (assuming of course that means all this info is legit). It makes a ton of sense that RIM would want to bring everything onto the new operating system as soon as possible (although I'm sure RIM will keep the old OS and phones hanging around for a while so they can sell them at low cost in emerging markets - Balsillie noted last week that RIM could be in a place to take advantage of a tiered strategy). 

And while the Highlander theme does point to there being ONE operating system for phone and tablet, I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean only one identical User Interface (UI) for phones and tablets. Of course it's pure speculation at this point, but I'm sure with the folks from TAT now part of RIM, that there will be differentiation in the  user experience from phone to tablet (full touch experience with bigger screens vs. phones with smaller screens and keyboard, etc.). I've sort of been dreading the year 2012 (with the end of the world and all supposed to happen), but with this news I sort of wish 2012 would come tomorrow. I want my BlackBerry 7!

Source: Berry Review

Reader comments

There Can Be Only ONE - BlackBerry 7 to merge the Best of BlackBerry 6.1 and QNX?!


It's like a dream come true to hear that they're trying to kill fragmentation with their phone OS. I really hope they do it.

Also, they need to get those 2011 phones out asap. If they don't announce and launch at BB World in May, they will have issues for the rest of the year....

It's about time we got a new operating system (QNX), all the current BB OS iterations (OS4.7, OS5, OS6 etc) are just a new face on the same old OS core, lipstick on a pig if you will, although I will admit I like OS6 a lot and is enough to hold me over until these QNX phones are finally released to the public.

This is conventional wisdom, and I don't disagree that they need a news OS, but recall that the current OS has true multitasking where as even newer competing OSes don't, so the pig metaphor is over done and is coming from people that don't even understand the BB OS.

I recall so called knowledgeable reporters asking Mike L when BBerries would get multi-tasking (after Apple came out with fake multi-tasking). Answer: we've had it from day 1.

Looks like Rim has a bright future in their smartphone markets once this hybridized software is implemented.

Interesting,,, sounds as though 6.1 could be an interesting evolution above and beyond what we've heard already. Would be nice to see it running on some new phones soon (see: Bold, Touch)!

I think that's refering to the core of os 6.1, that it has been the core os for the past 10 years and every new os4, os5, os6 , etc were just improvemts upon this core os and now they are going to move to a QNX core os beginning with Highlander aka os 7. I can't wait till 2012 for the new blackberry devices that's when I'm due for an upgrade from verizon. Hopefully they are out by june of 2012 so I can take advantage of verizons customer only annual sale (discount), that's how I got my new bold 9650 in 2010 for only $50, used my upgrade and their customer only discount and I couldn't be more happy with my first smartphone and since verizon no longer has the every 2 new discount I'm going to use my last one wisely.

"RIM is still in the "early stages" of OS 7 with a target of 2012"

Oh my!

seriously RIM? Don't you feel you're lagging behind the entire world?
Don't you see how quick people function around you?
Don't you see how quick Samsung develop? Or Google's Android?

I can't wait for you, RIM, any longer.

Wow, we'll really miss you here. Thanks taking the time to let us know that you are leaving, I don't know what I would have done without that valuable information. LOL!

Enjoy your Samsung Android.

I'm usually a RIM supporter but it's difficult not to side with it's critics here. This is taking entirely too long. When did they buy QNX and why are they still in the early stages of OS7? It's not like they figured just yesterday that it would end up on the phones. Plus OS6.1 is taking a long time because of miscommunications in the team? Is that R&D at RIM run by a bunch of amateur hacks? Weren't we told QNX was the supremely portable OS used to run everything from cars to the space shuttle and toasters and yet it's going to take one more year to get it to run on smartphones the company builds just for it? Are these guys for real?

google bought Android, Inc. in 2005. It wasn't officially released until 2008. Do you think a tech product can be made as fast as you nuking your can of hormel chili for dinner?


I straight port of the tablet OS to a blackberry phone isn't acceptable so Im glad they'll be a combining it but unlike some of you, I don't mind os 6, it just needs a bit more grunt which 6.1 will have especially in the UI and graphical end (but is anyone going to bother porting stuff over with QNX tapping on its shoulder?). I'll be pleasantly surprised if OS 6 back-end allowed more than just java apps and broaden their horizon that QNX has done.

Yep -- in actuality RIM will be able to pull off a new OS FASTER than anyone else has been able to get . The legacy stuff is some serious baggage -- Apple iOS had nothing to lose, and Android was even easier, and it STILL took years for them to make it to market. RIM is transitioning from legacy to next-gen hardware and software WHILE trying to maintain market feasibility. It's doing a very good job at it (record sales and revenues, AGAIN), given the competitors have it so easy (being the new kid on the block is always easy).

true, Rim have been in the mobile business and considering the hardware they use, they have a very optimised OS unlike the very hungry android - problem with rim is that they stood by watching the rest walk by whilst they carried the baggage but at least they're "spring cleaning".

They had also mentioned that they don't want to lose any of the features that consumers like about the old OS. I can only imagine the meticulous work that must be done to combine these two operating systems together... It's like taking a piece of art, un-weaving the threads and sewing it seamlessly into another work of art.

2012 seems pretty reasonable to me and it gives me something to be excited about.

I think this part may be an error. As long as the hardware keyboards are great and email is secure it's a blackberry. The fact that so many people are switching should be telling RIM people really don't value a lot of features RIM thinks is so precious.

I say RIM should go the disruptive route, ditch everything except the above two features and give us a phone with WOW! [In box integration is also good, they do that better than others I hear, better than Apple I know].

Well, I am just ready for the new phones, not the next new phones. I am still rocking a Storm 1 ... through me a bone already

Blah blah Blah......a little more info then normal, but same ol' BS. How is everyone else making faster phone, yet RIM is still lagging behind? I understand getting things correct and taking your time to perfect things, BUT DAMN.

Right, but why? To me OS 6 is already pretty good. The only ting that bothers me is lagging sometimes, I might be wrong, but I tink a big cause of that was the slow chip they put in the torch, why did they do that?

THe processor in the Torch is the same as the one in the 9700, which is the same as the 9000 had. RIM has said they're on 3 year cycles, so that's my guess. That would give them a pretty big discount on those chips.

Hmmm this might be interesting. But I still hope all the "new " phones that come out have a purely new qnx os. I kinda think rim is getting the rep microsoft has with windows and apple has with every product since touch that its nothing more then a refresh at best. I really like the look of qnx, I just hope its like honeycomb for android. You know new snappy but hopefully without the fun/annoying glitches.

The new phones will not come with QNX, they'll have 6.1. Hopefully they will be able to support OS7/QNX when it comes out though, I imagine the top tier ones will.

What RIM needs to do is stop updating OS5. It's pretty mature now.

Cut down on OS6 support and focus on new and better things.

I think this is great news.
2012 is only 9 months away. Think of it as a natural gestation period, but at the end we'll have a bouncing baby OS7.

RIM's OS is fine. It's the UI (User Interface) you don't like.

The only reason to change the OS is to get the RTOS features of QNX. Which admittedly will make a difference performance wise.

But the UI should have been overhauled as soon as the iPhone showed what could be achieved.

My contract with my torch will be up in 2012. I like OS6 vs the OS4.7 I had on a curve. I can't wait to see how powerful the phones can be with QNX OS on them. This is key for RIM to gain ground and take some back from the competition. Either that and everyone will be going to DROIDS.

I guess what this means for me is I shouldn't be afraid to replace my 9700 in July when the new phones come out because it will be July 2012 when the QNX phones hit.

"One of the key reasons OS 6.1 is falling behind schedule is miscommunication between teams in the critical path of the project"

Sounds like they need to get their sh1t together.

Seriously... It took them 'til the polishing stages of 6.1 to realize that they have communication issues? This has been the thesis of their development cycle since 4.7. I really hope the issues they're finding now are ones that slipped through the cracks back in the day. I'm confused that this sleeping giant is so inept.

"There can be only One."
I want to see a playbook cut off the top of a Bold and eat it's heart!

i really hope that the NEW BLACKBERRIES DOESN'T ONLY COME WITH OS 6.1 I HOPE THEY ARE 4G'S TOOO!!!!!!!! that would be soooo awesome if there are.........



When BlackBerry forums are overrun by religious maniacs using permanent Caps Lock it's time to turn off the computer and go for a long walk.

He's got a point, most professed Christians don't really know what the Bible teaches and even celebrate Pagan holidays and rituals.
He's right about what the Bible teaches about the end of this system, which is not the same as the end of the world.
The rest, I'm not so sure about... Not that that's a reason to dismiss it IMO.

Can't wait to hear some official news from RIM about their OS 6.1 and this years hardware.

I really want to see what 6.1 is all about. Everything coming out is saying its a major upgrade. Heres hoping current devices will be able to use it. Would be horrible if the 9780 and 9800 do not get the upgrade.

The only real complaints about the Torch were lag and, maybe, lack of graphical wow factor/overall consistency in menus. The new phones will have faster chips and seems like graphical pop (hopefully from TAT). This should get them back on track. Seriously I think OS6 has the best homescreen for getting shit done than any phone out there.

They are right to whip the troops up, they are right that delays are unacceptable, I just hope they throw all the resources at it that they need to to get the job done. Sometimes workers do need a wake up call, but it could also be they lack the people they need to get the job done.

When you look at everything recent from RIM, from Mike L's double talking to the press, no one outside of Crackberry knowing what the Playbook does or doesn't do, and now the CTO saying that they are behind because of internal communications issues between development team, the one clear thing is a failure at many levels of management within RIM to focus the company and the message properly. To many co-Whatevers in the org chart IMHO.

I'm also concerned that they will weaken the benifits of the Tablets OS by trying to meld it with "10 year old" BBOS.

While the core BBOS incl. 6.1 might be carrying a lot of bagage it seems that on the hardware front things are really stepping up with the 2011 models. And really, BBOS does a really nice job in the core functions, as I see it iOS and Android are only now catching up in areas of mail and general PIM management.

I agree that the wow effect, media handling and browsing have been lagging on BB, but at least they baked the cake before putting the frosting on it ;)

Also iOS is at a challenging place. Their OS seems to be falling behind as well as 3 was just a little more of 2 and 4 a little more of 3, only it is helped by apps to an extend BBOS can only dream of (but I think BB will get there too)

There are core areas where BB excel. Mail/PIM infrastructure this strong in a world that goes to the cloud along with great battery life due to good utilization of the processor are just some of the features that would shine even brighter with a fresh OS like we can hope for in OS7.

by the way I just bought myself an iPad2, so I'm not just relentlessly defending RIM, I just feel the BB is the best smartphone (BES) and iPad is the best Pad (apps galore) for me :)