Future BlackBerry to run new OS
Cape Town - Research in Motion's (RIM) acquisition of software company QNX will change the operating system on future BlackBerry devices as the firm looks to grow its market in smartphones.
"We will start having our handsets based on QNX in the near future," Rui Brites team leader for Product Management in Africa for RIM told News24.
He conceded that developers had found the traditional BlackBerry operating system difficult to work on, but that the new QNX operating system would open the market to more apps.
"QNX is giving us the ability to open that, because it's truly an open-source OS and what we're doing is we're basically saying that if you have any in-house skills of any sort of development, you will now be able to develop on BlackBerry."
He said that because of the new operating system, it was becoming possible for users to download Android apps onto BlackBerry devices.
"We've created an opportunity for Android developers to submit their applications onto our App World and we've created a player that re-compiles it to work on this device," said Brites.
This means that developers no longer have to code specifically for BlackBerry, potentially opening the device to a range of new apps in the booming Android market.
The BlackBerry instant messaging service, BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) allows users to send free text messages to those with the device, and RIM was in the process of opening the platform to developers.
"We're opening up the APIs [Application Programming Interfaces] on BBM, allowing developers to integrate," Brites said.
The company remains committed to partnering with mobile service providers to deliver data packages and billing, and Brites explained that this logic was particularly necessary in developing nations in Africa because of the low access to credit cards and payment systems.
"If we look at App World, or apps purchasing, we fundamentally believe that carrier billing integration is the way to go," he said.
RIM introduced BBM gifting in February and uses are able to send airtime to their contacts to play games or make App World purchases.
The firm hinted that its ambition with the gifting programme extends beyond sending airtime to friends and family.
"There will be many usage scenarios and circumstances that can be accommodated through the BBM mobile gifting platform around the world, but the easiest for many people to readily envision and appreciate is the simplified act of a parent approving their child’s request for additional airtime minutes or an app purchase with a single click using BBM," Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said at the time.
"Now having integrated carrier billing, you're now able to gift airtime, using BBM. It's BlackBerry to BlackBerry related, but gifting can be to anybody," said Brites.
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