Canada’s Research in Motion just introduced its revamped BlackBerry 6 operating system with the BlackBerry Torch smartphone, but the company is apparently planning something different for its rumored “BlackPad” tablet: an operating system based on technology from QNX, which RIM acquired back in April.
QNX real-time operating systems are used in some motor vehicle software, some medical equipment, networking hardware, and navigation systems—it’s used in BMW’s current audio systems and software used to control the U.S. Army’s unmanned Crusher ground vehicle, for instance. RIM acquired QNX under the auspices of enhancing BlackBerry integration with automotive systems.
Now, according to Bloomberg,, RIM intends to base its tablet operating system on technology from QNX. The story cites no specific reason, save that it may have been faster to repurpose QNX’s technology for a tablet due to “legacy code” in BlackBerry 6.
Other companies hav demonstrated that mobile operating systems can scale well to tablet devices: a slew of Android tablets are due to hit the market before the end of the year, and of course Apple is way out in front of the game with its iPad, which runs a version of its iOS mobile operating system.
By rolling out a whole new OS for a BlackBerry tablet, RIM may face challenges, however: not only does it have to re-invent the wheel after putting enormous work and resources into the touch-based BlackBerry 6, but it potentially breaks compatibility with existing BlackBerry applications.
Reports of RIM’s unannounced “BlackPad” tablet began surfacing last month, with the device sporting a 9.7-inch touchscreen display and functioning more as a peripheral to a BlackBerry smartphone than a standalone product: for instance, to get mobile 3G service, the tablet would have to pair with a BlackBerry smartphone.