RIM's new PlayBook operating system to usurp BlackBerry OS


Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) confirmed the new BlackBerry Tablet OS powering its forthcoming PlayBook unit eventually will replace its current BlackBerry smartphone operating system across all devices the company produces. IntoMobile reports that RIM execs confirmed the OS migration during a breakfast event at its BlackBerry DevCon 2010 event, taking place this week in San Francisco--however, the transition could take several years, with RIM likely to introduce BlackBerry 7 to bridge the gap. RIM added that BlackBerry 7's introduction is at least a year off--the present BlackBerry 6 OS premiered just last month in conjunction with the release of the BlackBerry Torch smartphone, touting a series of enhancements including a redesigned user interface, a new WebKit-based browser and expanded messaging features.

RIM unveiled the PlayBook tablet Monday. Promising a seven-inch LCD touchscreen, dual HD cameras and WiFi/Bluetooth 2.1 support, with 3G and 4G models forthcoming, the PlayBook touts Adobe Flash-enabled web browsing, multitasking and high-definition multimedia playback as well as out-of-the-box enterprise support. According to RIM, the BlackBerry Tablet OS is built upon the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture and boasts full POSIX compliance, offering developers easy portability of C-based code alongside support for Open GL for 2D and 3D graphics-intensive applications (e.g., gaming). RIM notes the Tablet OS also supports Java, enabling developers to translate existing BlackBerry 6 apps to the PlayBook format, and runs apps built in Adobe Mobile AIR.

The BlackBerry Tablet OS additionally runs apps built on the new BlackBerry WebWorks platform, also unveiled at DevCon 2010. WebWorks enables web developers to create full-featured BlackBerry apps entirely in HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, bringing together existing RIM web development tools along with new resources and platform services. RIM promises access to core BlackBerry features like multitasking, Push technology and Locate services as well as new web APIs and the BlackBerry Web Plug-Ins 2.5, giving developers the flexibility to start their application in the background, the homescreen or a download folder.

According to data issued by digital measurement firm comScore, BlackBerry represents 39.3 percent of the U.S. smartphone market as of July 2010, outpacing rivals like Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's Android. BlackBerry's dominance is declining, however--in April 2010, the platform accounted for 41.1 percent of U.S. smartphones. BlackBerry's decline is tied directly to Android's ascent: The Google operating system now makes up 17.0 percent of the U.S. market, up five percentage points since April.

For more on RIM's operating system plans:
- read this IntoMobile article

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