RIM, now called Blackberry, has finally launched BB 10. This new OS launch signifies a major change in the internal Operating system that is powering the Blackberry. The latest BB 10 devices hitting the market will be powered by QNX neutrino RTOS (Real time operating system).
It is not very widely known that this happens to be Blackberry’s second such transition over the years. The original Blackberry devices that hit the world markets were in fact programmed in C++. Those devices were powered by twin AA battery’s which meant that they did not run out of juice for about three weeks. The first BB device capable of making calls was the Blackberry 5810 launched in 2001. This device had an OS written completely in the micro edition of Java 2 also popularly known as J2ME. This allowed Blackberry to create more secure means of communication.
Mike Lazardis, founder of Blackberry once made a very stubborn statement that there no attempt to re-write the Blackberry OS. Blackberry feared that the security certifications they acquired with their existing system will be in jeopardy if the OS were to be re-written. Over the years there have been a multitude of things that they professed the Blackberry wouldn’t. The color screen or a camera, for instance, was a big no-no.
With acquisition of QNX, Blackberry has indeed been moving along in the direction of a newly written OS. But this change of heart was kept in total secrecy. The official statement then was the QNX would mean that Blackberry would have the ultimate accompanying accessory, the car. QNX systems were already popular for being embedded in the control systems in over 200 car models. Java was now a technology of the past, but Blackberry wasn’t about to admit this. However, the QNX acquisition gave Blackberry the required tools to build a new device that would run a new operating system.
The Blackberry Playbook was the realization of this technology. The Playbook was visualized long before the iPad ever came out. The launch and success of the iPad further boosted Blackberry’s drive to come out with their own tablet. QNX delivered an important piece for the Blackberry which was the neutrino OS. The neutrino is currently seen as the most ideal companion to a mobile computing platform. The QNX systems are popularly used to control nuclear reactors, casino slot machines and Las Vegas lighting shows to name some of their customers.
The proving ground for Blackberry had to be the Playbook. The playbook turned out to be a dud commercially without any doubt. But this can be attributed to other factors like the lack of a proper app market. But looking closely the contribution of Neutrino was far more important than money. There was no longer any doubt that QNX’s Neutrino OS is most ideally suited to power a mobile computer that comes with various media-rich applications and a massively responsive touch interface. QNX has done its job. The job remaining belongs to the user interface designers and developers.
Overall, QNX has undoubtedly proved its worth. It is currently the ideal underlying kernel for a tablet experience. With the onset of Blackberry10, Blackberry now has core apps that are written entirely in their native language. There can be doubt that the new OS will be able to render a smooth user experience.