At the BlackBerry 2011 Developers Conference (or DevCon), RIM co-CEO and founder Mike Lazaradis unveiled BBX, a new operating system that will run on BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry Playbook as soon as next year.
BBX combines elements of QNX, a RIM-acquired operating system used primarily in the embedded systems market, and the old BlackBerry OS. The new OS packs a hefty security punch: it has support for Security Certification EAL4+, IEE POSIX certification and IEC 61508 Safety (SIL3).
It will also feature a major improvement in the user experience (UX) in the less boring areas, like support 2D and 3D gaming.
Rui Brites, the director for product management in Africa told iMaverick that the new BBX system was RIM’s way of securing its future. “With BBX, we’ve opened up in a big way,” he said. “We have over 400,000 developers worldwide and have now developed tools for Android developers to submit their apps to the BlackBerry App World without needing to recode.”
Any current WebWorks and HTML5 apps created for BlackBerry devices will integrate effortlessly with BBX, according to Brites. Any apps made using Native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks or HTML5 for the Playbook will also work on the new OS.
The new OS should make for a happier experience for BlackBerry multimedia experience, especially on smartphones, where the app market felt a bit sparse. Playbook users will find joy in BBX as well.
Astonishingly, given all the doom-and-gloom headlines, the BlackBerry App World is the second-most profitable app market in the world, behind only Apple. (Take that, Android.)
Brites had some great news for the African part of the BlackBerry market – a SIM-card Playbook will become available from next year onward, and will come with native email (a software program that handles email from within the device) and compatibility with Android-developed apps. The Playbook currently availabl works only on Wi-Fi, which can be a huge problem in Africa, where such coverage is scarce.
RIM is making significant moves towards cloud-based services. Microsoft recently launched Office 365, a cloud service aimed at businesses, particularly the smaller ones with no IT department. RIM has leapt at the opportunity for its Enterprise users, and announced that hosted BlackBerry Enterprise service will be available for Office 365 users. These are business-aimed products, mind you.
Brites said that BlackBerry Protect will soon be available as a cloud service for small businesses, allowing entrepreneurs to protect and remotely control several devices via the web.
The move to adopt the one-OS-fits-all approach will bring RIM in line with Microsoft, Android and Apple, who all develop a single system that can work on smartphones and tablets. And opening up the BlackBerry App World to Android is a bit of a master-stroke. The BlackBerry devices of the future should be able to handle the new, multimedia experience denied to previous devices due to a lack of processing power and memory.
All of this comes in the wake of the massive service outages that RIM experienced last week. On Monday, a critical switch failed in a server in Slough, leading to a collapse of the BlackBerry Internet Service in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The slowing down of data caused traffic back-ups that affected service in the Americas as well.
Robert Bose, the managing director for Benelux (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg), Central Europe and Africa at RIM, says they are still looking into exactly what went wrong with the server in question. He said that it wasn’t so much the critical switch fail that caused the trouble, but a back-up system that was meant to click into place didn’t work as tested, leading to the two-day outages.
Bose said that he didn’t believe that the service interruption would harm their market growth prospects in Africa, as they were working hard to fix the damage caused. BlackBerry has about 70 million active users around the world, according to Bose, and numbers are growing.
But the worry for RIM is that sales and market share are tumbling. Steadily so, for the last three quarters in row. Can BBX and BlackBerry’s new pal Android halt that? DM
In other news...
South Africa is in a very real battle. A political fight where terms such as truth and democracy can seem more of a suggestion as opposed to a necessity.
On one side of the battle are those openly willing to undermine the sovereignty of a democratic society, completely disregarding the weight and power of the oaths declared when they took office. If their mission was to decrease society’s trust in government - mission accomplished.
And on the other side are those who believe in the ethos of a country whose constitution was once declared the most progressive in the world. The hope that truth, justice and accountability in politics, business and society is not simply fairy tale dust sprinkled in great electoral speeches; but rather a cause that needs to be intentionally acted upon every day.
However, it would be an offensive oversight not to acknowledge that right there on the front lines, alongside whistleblowers and civil society, stand the journalists. Armed with only their determination to inform society and defend the truth, caught in the crossfire of shots fired from both sides.
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The Pentagon has twice as many bathrooms than necessary due to segregation being in force when it was constructed.