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RIM's Future Hangs On Developer Support For 'New BlackBerry' 148

Posted by Soulskill
from the if-you-build-it-they-may-or-may-not-come dept.
alphadogg writes "With its future up for grabs, Research in Motion at its annual BlackBerry World conference next week will focus on simplifying development for its soon-to-be-unveiled BlackBerry 10 operating system. HTML5 is one key technology in that strategy to create a viable ecosystem of applications for a new generation of mobile devices expected to ship by year-end. The simplicity is needed because BB10, based on a real time kernel acquired with RIM's buyout of QNX Software Systems in 2010, is a complete break with the software that runs on standard BlackBerry smartphones. 'It's a bit of a challenge,' says Tyler Lessard, formerly a RIM vice president in charge of the global developer program, and since October 2011 chief marketing officer at mobile security vendor Fixmo. 'There's very little or no compatibility between the old and new operating systems. Existing apps can't be carried forward to QNX and BB 10. The question is, once the BlackBerry 10 smartphones launch, can RIM have an adequate catalog of apps?'"
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RIM's Future Hangs On Developer Support For 'New BlackBerry'

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  • Doing it wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 28, 2012 @03:03PM (#39833099)
    Embrace Android, become a hardware power house. License BES tech, advertise battery life.
    • Re:Doing it wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by plazman30 (531348) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @03:17PM (#39833145) Homepage
      Agreed. Layer your services on top of Android and be done with it. Why develop an OS, when a free one is there waiting for you to add to it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by goombah99 (560566)

        Agreed. Layer your services on top of Android and be done with it. Why develop an OS, when a free one is there waiting for you to add to it.

        Why would I buy a RIM when and LG or HTC or Samsung behaved the same? That's a recipe for death. It won't be long before google offers the same enterprise e-mail that rim does. What is the distinguishing feature?

        • Re:Doing it wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by muon-catalyzed (2483394) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @04:07PM (#39833359)
          > What is the distinguishing feature?
          Unlike LG, HTC or Samsung, RIM is a North American company, I would still prefer RIM and I want RIM to develop their own OS. Android and Apple-iOS have lots of drawbacks and problems, as a consumer I want more options.
          • by WiiVault (1039946)
            To be fair you also have Windows Phone which is debatable better positioned in the future (not by much but MS will spend lots) than RIM, and also WebOS which is looking like where BB will be in 3 years unless RIM gets their shit together.
          • by pla (258480)
            Unlike LG, HTC or Samsung, RIM is a North American company

            You may have heard of this new startup, really shaking up the market these days... Goes by the cutesy name of "Apple"? Straight out of Cupertino, you don't get much more North American than that.

            Not to mention that Microsoft and Google also come from the US... And for the record, your Crackberry came from Malaysia, which last time I checked didn't recently become a Canadian province.
          • > What is the distinguishing feature? Unlike LG, HTC or Samsung, RIM is a North American company, I would still prefer RIM and I want RIM to develop their own OS. Android and Apple-iOS have lots of drawbacks and problems, as a consumer I want more options.

            If that's your criteria (being North American), then you can by Mot as well. It's owned by Google. If enough people thought like you, Palm would have been a success.

            Incidentally, how do you define 'North American' (or for that matter American)? Samsung, HTC and LG have Android on their phones, not some native Korean or Chinese OS. Or conversely, those phones are manufactured in China, but so for that matter is Mot, Nokia, Sony-Ericsson and others. In fact, using this criteria, one can question whethe

          • by krischik (781389)

            RIM is a North American company

            In the time of the PATRIOT act this would be a disadvantage. Of course RIM is Canadian, which is a little better.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          There's no particular reason to for them to have to change how the base Android OS works if they went with it. RIM's strength is, was, and if they survive will be their security and administration model. The reason Google will never offer an enterprise email that is "the same" is that Google is an advertising company and everybody had better remember that. However, RIM's email and messaging infrastructure was designed in such a way that even RIM couldn't tap it easily and nobody else could at all. That'

        • by sjames (1099)

          You might not, but an enterprise with it's own BES or which has heavily vetted the crackberry might be very interested.

        • Re:Doing it wrong. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by wisty (1335733) on Sunday April 29, 2012 @04:47AM (#39836343)

          If RIM supplies a better enterprise email client / server package, then enterprises will buy it. Just like they used to.

          • by tehcyder (746570)

            If RIM supplies a better enterprise email client / server package, then enterprises will buy it. Just like they used to.

            In the same way that Microsoft obviously supplies the best non-mobile enterprise email client/server package due to their large market share?

            The myth that the best quality product always wins out in a capitalist/free market * economy is palpable nonsense.

            Yes, I know the libertarians will say that we don't have a free market system, and that it is the interference of government that has spoiled the beauty of pure capitalism. But that's even greater bollocks.

      • Re:Doing it wrong. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Sipper (462582) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @03:42PM (#39833257)

        Agreed. Layer your services on top of Android and be done with it. Why develop an OS, when a free one is there waiting for you to add to it.

        Yeah, that way you can fragment development based not only on what the hardware manufacturer does to the version of Android shipped with the phone, but also fragment as time goes on with various versions of Android. :-/

        The issue isn't that they didn't go with Android -- the issue is that there's no compatibility between their old OS and their new OS. Historically that kind of departure doesn't usually work out well.

        An example of where this kind of transition works is the migration Apple went through between OS 9 and OS X. OS X shipped with an emulator, "OS Classic", to allow people to run OS 9 applications -- and sometime they later dropped support for this. They also shipped 'Rosetta' to simultaneously support PowerPC and Intel architecture -- and now they're dropping support for that, too. But during the transitions they supported applications, at least for a couple of years. With no similar "transition support", RIM is taking a big risk, and there's a good chance they're going to get burnt, because in terms of application support they're starting from scratch again.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          You make it sound like the existing BB OS has applications anyone cares about. I think we can probably agree that blackberry's irrelevance is a result of its failure to innovate - I'd argue conservative measures for the sake of maintaining the status quo are shortsighted.
      • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

        by dumon (868923)

        Why develop an OS, when a free one is there waiting for you to add to it.

        Let's see... - on one side, you've got Apple - own OS + own hardware. On the other side, you'v got the army of "everybody else", Google's Android + own hardware. Now what possible difference could make on more addition to that Android soup ? I am glad RIM decided to forge it's own OS - that has the potential of making them a strong player in the smartphone contest. And what's event better - it's QNX based, which means - native apps, oh yeeeeaaah ! Take that, Java !

        • What possible difference can they make by going with their own OS, though, other than increased development costs? i.e. what exact purpose is better served by building from scratch over building on Android?

          As for "native", did you miss the mention of HTML5 in the story? Sure, they'll let you use native code outside of UI, but that is there in Android as well.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sonicmerlin (1505111)

        Because Android is a laggy, buggy piece of trash that has horrible standby battery drain. Android is antiquated, a pre-iOS junkheap that should have been thrown away the moment iOS was first revealed. MSFT threw away Windows Mobile to develop WP7/8, Palm threw away Palm OS for webOS, RIM the old BB OS for the new QNX OS, and Nokia originally was transitioning away from Symbian for MeeGo. Google is the only one who decided to just rip off Apple as fast as possible by slapping on a touchscreen layer onto t

        • by tehcyder (746570)
          I don't know whether you're going for a subtle double-bluff troll or something, but criticising battery life on Android compared with Apple is a bit like a Windows fan criticising Linux for not being secure.
      • by jbolden (176878)

        Well for one thing the QNX kernel has capabilities in doing types of multitasking that might work better with distributed processing that the Linux kernel (which is ultimately designed around x86 type architectures) doesn't have. In theory there could be huge advantages for BB10. I don't believe that RIM has the technical excellence to pull this off at this point but QNX is a really interesting OS.

    • by Swampash (1131503)

      Embrace Android, become a hardware power house.

      yeah, just like... um... well I'm sure SOMEONE'S doing it.

    • Having its own OS would hopefully mean less exposure to Android based viruses etc
    • I don't think this is a good plan. If they use Android, then they basically have 2 options:

      A) Stick close to the reference design, and be just another Android phone manufacturer. Relinquish control over future software development to Google. Then they struggle to compete and differentiate themselves from other Android manufacturers-- i.e. "Why do I buy this RIM phone instead of the Samsung phone with the same features?"

      B) Go their own way and deviate widely from the reference design. Run the risk that

    • How this got modded up is the same reason RIM is failing. They sold a platform that runs only signed code and supports full encryption to users/investors who would rather have a bubble leveling application then trusted applications.

      Nobody develops for RIM because it is extremely difficult to do things like change UI elements, send SMS, place calls, use the wifi, bluetooth or camera and make the device cool... the same reasons it's not a target for malware and that many carriers love blackberries.

      If RIM ran

  • Could be staking their dwindling future on windows phones.

    But if they don't innovate (read port to android and ditch the hardware business) they're doomed.

    • by hantms (2527172)

      Could be staking their dwindling future on windows phones.

      But if they don't innovate (read port to android and ditch the hardware business) they're doomed.

      If they port to Android and ditch the hardware business they're still doomed.

      • It's not like Android is making much money either - Google makes $2 per phone, Apple $575 [slashdot.org].

        And with the way that the Android platform has already fragmented, it's going to go the way of Linux on the desktop.

        Want to buy an Android phone? Good luck comparing features, and figuring out if your manufacturer will even be offering updates 6 months from now.

        All Android did was kill off Apple's other competitors, leaving the top - and all the profits- to Apple. RIM is just one more victim.

    • by goombah99 (560566)

      Could be staking their dwindling future on windows phones.

      Seriously, I wonder what the prospects for the windows phone are. My starting assumption is that Microsoft knows they need to succeed in the smart phone game and that this would be a good thing to blow their cash hoard on unless they want to stay a PC software company. So I assume they are going to make some company succeed but may have not made up their minds which.

      The obvious choice is Nokia's headlong commitment to Windows phones. Clearly a willing partner with the manufacturing, distribution and har

      • by jbolden (176878)

        . My starting assumption is that Microsoft knows they need to succeed in the smart phone game and that this would be a good thing to blow their cash hoard on unless they want to stay a PC software company. So I assume they are going to make some company succeed but may have not made up their minds which.

        You are assuming wrong. The board discussed this something like about 18mo back. While they are willing to lose a little on this market they are not going to focus on this market as a core strategic dire

    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      but if their marketshare exceeds Windows Phone in a reasonable time frame, I will piss my pants laughing. I guess Nokia shareholders will piss their pants for other reasons however.

    • by daniel78 (2563977)
      IMHO, the Microsoft/Windows brand pretty much ensures no one wants a windows phone. Its about as cool as MS Word. ie. not very. In fact, i think this is why microsoft pretty much universally struggles with new markets.

      Blackberry, on the other hand still has some "street cred" and if RIM can make a polished/quality product and get enough developers/apps on board (big IFs!) then they might still have a chance of retaining some market share.

      Having a market with 10000000 android apps is highly overrat
  • by SlashdotWanker (1476819) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @03:16PM (#39833141)
    They're going to be stuck in the same position that Palm was only 3 years further down the line in technology. QNX is pretty slick but they're going to have to encourage (bribe) developers and keep pushing the way Microsoft has with Windows Phone if they want to have a prayer... Every day they wait on hardware is a slightly smaller chance of any kind of success.
    • In what world is Microsoft pushing Windows Phones? They've got the most pathetic lineup of any platform. A grand total of one (1) phone on Verizon's network.

      • by symbolset (646467) *
        Verizon got burned on the KIN. There's no way in hell they're going to push Windows Phones. They will pretend, and that's it.
      • by 21mhz (443080)

        That's how we know your world is limited to Verizon. In ours, there are also AT&T and T-Mobile, who have fairly popular Windows Phone models. Not to mention other countries out there because who cares about them anyway.

  • I myself am quite happy with my Blackberry and I'm really curious what they will bring to the table.
    I really think they should diversify their hardware, bring some qwerty models, like the Curve, Bold and Torch. But also full touchsreen devices, with small screens to bigger screens. Like 3,2" and 3,7" and 4,3" for example.
    I do think they are still interesting for developers. They will have their own platform. But also Qt support, which might bring in a lot of old Nokia developers. They also support Android,

    • No! Diversifying is the worst idea! One phone, one model, keep it simple. Android is too fractured, iPhone has one model, with a service pack released about every 9 months. Apple success is because of the simplicity, one model with slight hardware variations over the course of what like 5 years? Which means most apps on the 3GS works on the 4S. OS5 apps don't always work well with OS6, and wont even run on OS7. I love my Blackberry (Have the Torch 8910, wish I had a Bold 9900...) and my Playbooks! OS2 is am

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      RIM can't afford a billion models and feature sets. They tried that, it led them here. They need a hero phone or 2 and to avoid another expensive PlayBook like flop- despite how nice the device itself is.
  • It looks like BlackBerry might be set to make the same mistake Palm did when they launched WebOS. Palm completely abandoned a huge "ecosystem" of PalmOS users, software, and developers by not supporting PalmOS software on WebOS. I'm not suggesting that this move was solely responsible for Palm's demise, but it certainly contributed. Sounds like BlackBerry is getting ready to do the same thing with their "Blackberry 10" OS.
    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      Yeah Palm killed off their old PalmOS ecosystem at precisely the same time as Blackberry is now- with the decline in full swing but still not a sure thing entirely. Killing legacy might be their only choice like it was for Palm, but it will kill them as well. Who will even consider writing for BB10 from scratch? In the case of both companies the time for salvation was open for a few years, and passed because they were stuck between the old way and the new one. In the end the new way won, but not before irre
  • by Anonymous Coward

    "RIM's Future Hangs On Developer Support For 'New BlackBerry'"

    I had a "quad band" (?) BlackBerry for years and kinda liked it's "full" keyboard to SMS.

    But I've developped for the BlackBerry which you *could* more or less program in Java but it was nonsense. They did definitely alienate the developers. If Java wasn't an option (it is now for Android btw ; ) then they should have made that clearer. It was by far the most buggy JVM of all the phones (and that's not a compliment, some of them were really te

  • by echusarcana (832151) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @03:48PM (#39833279)
    The Blackberry Ecosystem is such an enormous pain to develop for. Just trying to port over an existing Android app is one roadblock after another: the porting / re-signing tools were flaky. You had to use shitty MS Windows and follow weird badly written signing instructions. Developing natively is probably even worse - I hardly got anywhere with that. And this is all before you get to the market posting requirements.

    In comparison, the Android development environment "just works". Toss Eclipse on Ubuntu, do a couple add-ins, and you are up and running in an hour or two. Very very low cost to develop an application. Clear instructions on what you need to do to get on the market. Amazon was pretty simple as well.

    The banks and government business is the only thing keeping RIM afloat, and that can last a little while, but its a bad business model. RIM deserves to die.

    Have that resume ready, RIM employees. You are going to need it soon.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by kae77 (1006997)
      You mean the Android emulator, with documented situations where it doesn't work? Or you're blaming windows for the problems, which is a Microsoft product? Or developing natively, which hasn't even been fully released yet? You'll have to wait until next week to see the full NDK. I'm no developer, but from what I've heard about Android 'just working' involves supporting hundreds of devices, and plenty of different versions of Android just to get it working. Make no mistake, RIM has not been the easiest to
      • by daniel78 (2563977)
        Agreed - from what i've seen on the dev forums, the amount of involvement/activity/support from RIM devs has been excellent. Wining over app developers is essential to their survival and they seem to have realised this. Whether that's enough at this point is, of course, another question. I hope it works out for them.
    • by Tapewolf (1639955)

      Are you talking about current Blackberry development system? Because that's the bit they're (very sensibly) leaving behind.

    • by daniel78 (2563977)
      I actually completely disagree... at least in regard to native stuff, java-only on Android isn't so bad.

      For me, native Android dev has (over the past few years) been one headache after another and only recently has it started to approach being in any way user-friendly (though i still use command line tools and makefiles to build native code ,and have to switch to eclipse to develop the required, but wasteful, java wrapper) . There is *still* no native c++ debugger (at least not one provided by google),
  • Answer: does RIM currently have an adequate catalog of apps?
    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      True even the current apps are pretty weak, RIM needs a compatibility layer with older OS's bad otherwise lots of these companies who were only willing to support updates to the dwindling BB base will just say screw it to a full rewrite. And the Android apps on BB10 doesn't cut it.
  • What does "real time kernel" mean?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by busyqth (2566075)

      What does "real time kernel" mean?

      It means that the OS can make guarantees about the time of response to events (usually external inputs).
      This is very important for things like antilock brake control systems, not so much for consumer electronics.

      In this case, however, it's helpful because we can be assured that Blackberry OS Version 10 will tank within a guaranteed limited time.

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Cute answer. The importance of an RTOS for consumer electronics is responsiveness. Most OSes are optimized to do the most work on a given quantity of hardware. If however you optimize for responsiveness the system "feels" faster even though top of the line apps won't run. You reduce total productive capacity of the hardware but in exchange end user satisfaction skyrockets.

        This used to be one of the core differences between Windows Desktop and Windows Server how the kernel was tweaked. And in the case

        • by bheading (467684)

          Look at what is dominating the market at the moment. Apple's iOS is almost certainly closely related to OSX with its BSD lineage. Android is, as everyone knows, Linux with some tweaks. Nobody complains that these platforms are not responsive. The reality is that the hardware has caught up to the point where it is plainly no longer necessary for the OS to be frugal about RAM and CPU cycles.

          In that context, the claim that an RTOS is required seems like a straightforward case of premature optimization [wikipedia.org].

          • by jbolden (176878)

            Nobody complains that these platforms are not responsive.

            Actually they do all the time. The complain about battery life which under an RTOS could be much longer since subsystems can boot during the runtime unlike traditional kernels where the hardware is generally expected to be fully booted before the OS even starts. Application authors complain about how difficult it is to get smooth graphics. End users complain about their phones freezing. Public safety people complain about distraction factors.

            Yes

    • by alannon (54117)

      Well, if it's 'hard' Real Time, It means that the kernel is designed to give certain guarantees for responsiveness. An example could be that a process that requests it can be certain that it gets a timeslice every certain number of milliseconds either most of the time (for a 'soft' RTOS) or completely deterministically (for a 'hard' RTOS).

      • by PopeRatzo (965947)

        Well, if it's 'hard' Real Time, It means that the kernel is designed to give certain guarantees for responsiveness. An example could be that a process that requests it can be certain that it gets a timeslice every certain number of milliseconds either most of the time (for a 'soft' RTOS) or completely deterministically (for a 'hard' RTOS).

        Thank you for the answer. Can you give me an example of a non-RTOS? I've having trouble finding explanations of these things that I can understand via the google (but I'

        • by sysrammer (446839)

          Can you give me an example of a non-RTOS? I've having trouble finding explanations of these things that I can understand via the google (but I'm not particularly bright about these things).

          Let's see if I can give the nickel tour...

          Standard Windows, Unix & Linux OS's are all non-RTOS.

          An OS runs many processes that execute the programs and also take care of things in the background. Each process gets a timeslice, a share of the cpu. They often have to wait for an external event, such as disk or network i/o, and will queue up to wait for these events. A process is not guaranteed a constant response time for a given event, because higher priority processes or queueing may take your slice.

          A pr

        • Most OSes are non-RTOSes. Windows, MacOS X, Linux*, Android, iOS.

          Basically, a process tells the kernel 'Look, I *need* a slice of CPU time at this interval.' A realtime OS goes 'Okay, here you go.' A non-realtime OS goes 'Pfft, whatever. I'll see what I can do, but don't get your hopes up.'

          (* Standard Linux-related qualifier: There is, of course, a real-time variant of Linux, but most machines don't use that kernel.)

          • by bheading (467684)

            A process can guarantee that it is allocated CPU time by using one of the kernel's real-time scheduling policies (SCHED_FIFO/SCHED_RR). These are scheduled independently and ahead of any non-realtime processes.

            This is not, however, a substitute for good design. If the system has been designed properly, it will mostly work fine without having to use the real time scheduler (but may need it to ensure that all of the tight spots are covered). If the system contains a lot of processes all competing for CPU at t

  • Sorry, RIM... (Score:5, Informative)

    by alannon (54117) on Saturday April 28, 2012 @05:54PM (#39833809)

    As a (former) Blackberry developer, I've decided that I will be doing no more development for their platforms. They pissed away any goodwill I had for them by their crappy tools, crappy support and their ridiculous policies. As an example, in order to become a development partner, which is the ONLY way to get real support from them, you have to sign a license that basically gives RIM rights to use any of your source code that you develop for their platform. Or typically, if you tried to discuss a problem on their support forums, they would allow developers to spend weeks or months trying to figure out a problem before stepping in and say, "Oh, ya, we know about this. It's on our internal bug tracking system," and then close the discussion to new posts. This was often for bugs that had been around for several major API versions, or even from the very FIRST API version.

    Fighting through the mess seemed like it was worth it when it seemed like everybody in the market for the software I was developing had a Blackberry, but now that it's dropped down to almost zero, you want me to invest my time and money into a brand new platform? No, thanks. At this point, I'm content to see you slip beneath the waves and to try to forget you exist. Goodbye.

  • RIM is so dead that posting on this story isn't worth anyone's time.

  • Open source QNX. Its their only hope.
    • This would be nice, but what's in it for RIM?

  • Hoping for develop support to save them? Really? They should bet the farm on world peace...it has a better chance of happening.

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