RIM begins new bid to entice application developers

Next BlackBerry OS unites dev tools and platforms

An all-new operating system will allow BlackBerry content developers to build for both smartphones and tablets using a wide range of tools.

Mike Lazaridis, the co-CEO for BlackBerry manufacturer RIM, held a press release this week to unveil the new OS, called BBX.

The platform will power all of RIM’s future BlackBerry smartphones and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, though a release date has not been set.

Lazaridis explained the BBX OS is based on QNX software, currently applied by PlayBook tablets, but also combines the BlackBerry platform.

“Everything you build for BBX will run on every single device RIM makes,” Lazaridis said.

The unified operating system is also open to a number of frameworks, tools and platforms. It will support new cloud services and environments for both web-based and native application development.

BBX will allow for apps built on HTML5, CSS, JavaScript Adobe AIR and Flash. Content can also be built through the firm’s native SDK as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps. BBX will also support applications developed using any of the tools available today.

The idea is to allow developers to build content from a broad range of tools and channel that content across as many RIM devices as possible.

BBX will also include the new BlackBerry Cascades UI Framework for advanced graphics, and for the first time RIM has opened up app capabilities for always-on push services and social platforms.

The initiative comes as an increasing number of developers appear to have opted for rival operating systems such as Android and iOS.

In response, RIM wants to build an ecosystem of application developers for its new operating system. A new BlackBerry Jam scheme offers a series of dev sessions, a ‘Jam Zone’, community websites and various tools and services to lower the entry barriers for BlackBerry development.

Alec Saunders, the firm’s vice president of developer relations, took stage at the BlackBerry event to attack the “myths” concerning RIM’s platform.

BlackBerry App World is the second most profitable application marketplace, he claimed, behind Apple’s App Store but ahead of Google’s Android Marketplace. Some 13 per cent of BlackBerry developers have generated at least $100,000 through their apps, he added.

More than one billion applications have been downloaded from App World the firm added. More than five million are downloaded each day.

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