BlackBerry blog N4BB ran a post earlier today claiming that RIM has killed plans to make a 10″ version of their PlayBook tablet and is instead focusing on getting their first QNX-based smartphone out the door. QNX is the operating system powering the all-touch PlayBook, and whatever criticisms have been levied against the tablet, most critics and users alike have had good things to say about its user interface. To be honest, this is my first time hearing of N4BB, but enough folks tipped us off to the story that it seemed worth reporting on. Also, it’s always nice to write a phrase like this: If you’ll recall, just last week Jon suggested that getting QNX onto a phone should be priority number one in righting RIMs ship:
For RIM to really fix the hole in their boat, they have to use their QNX built PlayBook operating system as the patch. While currently missing key functionality (e-mail!) the OS is incredibly solid, modern, elegant, and secure. If RIM can successfully add the missing functionality to QNX, port it to the phone form factor, and add some modern hardware to the mix, they might just have some life left in them yet.
According to N4BB, RIM is working on a “superphone” that will run QNX on a high-resolution 4.3″ touchscreen. The site lists “900+ screen resolution” as a spec, which could mean qHD resolution (960 x 540). Also listed is the same single-core 1.2GHz processor found in the Bold 9900, which would run counter to earlier statements by RIM brass that they won’t launch a QNX phone without dual cores. Apparently battery life is a big concern around the idea of shoehorning the 7″ PlayBook’s dual-core chipset into a phone form factor. Then again, N4BB also mentioned that if they can pull it off, RIM hasn’t taken two cores completely off of the table for this first QNX phone.
At least one RIM executive has already gone on record about high-end QNX-based prototypes living and breathing somewhere within company confines. Carlo Chiarello, VP of RIM’s GSM/UMTS business unit, told TechRadar a few weeks back, “That [QNX] experience is going to start to come in to our high tier products…. I can’t tell you timings specifically. But it looks marvellous! [sic]” Could it be that RIM brass is feeling the heat – and there’s been a lot of it – to the point of pushing up production schedules, changing priorities, and rushing to get their next-generation of smartphones out the door sooner than later?
And, oh yeah … While the 10″ PlayBook may well be scrapped for now, RIM’s not about to bow out of the tablet market so soon. This new batch of rumors also mentions a 4G LTE-based version of the 7″ tablet being pushed up to an October 2011 ship date.
So, would a QNX-based BlackBerry before year’s end be enough to give RIM a much-needed boost, even if it shipped with a single-core processor? Or should RIM stick to the game plan and hold off on QNX phones until they can churn ’em out with dual-cores inside?