PlayBook tablet OS might move to BlackBerry phones

Research In Motion is expected to make this move in a couple of generations down the line.

BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion wants to put the new OS found on its upcoming PlayBook tablet on its phones as well, according to an IntoMobile report. The move is not expected to happen any time soon though, more likely a couple of BlackBerry generations down the line, but it's certainly an exciting prospect for the users of the aging OS.

The OS on the PlayBook, dubbed the BlackBerry Tablet OS, is a result of RIM's acquisition of QNX, which makes operating systems for mobile devices. The QNX OS on the PlayBook looks like a mash-up of Palm's WebOS and BlackBerry OS 6. It is supposed to improve stability, power consumption and have richer multimedia capabilities (Adobe Flash support, 3D rendering) - all some great potential additions to BlackBerry phones.

[ Slideshow: A visual guide to the BlackBerry Playbook ]

RIM's latest mobile OS iteration, the BlackBerry OS 6 found on the Torch, debuted this year and brought several improvement with the user interface. My colleague Ginny Mies explains in her hands-on that BBOS6 "still lacks the freshness it needs to keep up with the competition," as well as that it "won't be able to win over new customers," but rather retain some of the user base considering to switch to an iPhone or Android phone.

[ Smackdown: See how the PlayBook compares to the Galaxy Tab and iPad ]

However, it won't be until after RIM releases BBOS7 that the QNX OS from the PlayBook will make its way to BlackBerry phones, according to a RIM vice president quoted in the IntoMobile report. If confirmed, this would mean that BBOS would be the stepping-stone in the transition to the new OS on all BlackBerry phones. This would also give RIM time to prepare for the transition, as well as for developers to get accustomed to the new OS (after the PlayBook is released sometime next year).

There are quite a few unanswered questions though about RIM's full transition to the QNX OS for BlackBerry phones. The company said some existing BlackBerry apps will be able to run on the PlayBook, but it is unclear whether this is achieved via software emulation. It also uncertain whether PlayBook apps will work on BlackBerrys by the time the transition is complete. Meanwhile, we have yet to test and play with the upcoming PlayBook, and actually see if lives up to the hype.

RIM did not reply to a request for comment by the time of publishing.

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Daniel Ionescu

PC World (US online)
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