RIM's BBX Phones Won't Look Like Bold, Will Support BES
RIM's new BBX phones may not look like the BlackBerry Bold, but they will support BlackBerry's core enterprise email features, Alec Saunders, RIMxxx8217;s vice president of Developer Relations and Ecosystem Development told PCMag.com.
That's because the first phones based on RIM's new OS will have the same screen resolution and aspect ratio as the BlackBerry PlayBook, which has a 16:9 ratio and 1024-by-600 screen. That's a screen resolution we haven't seen before on small mobile-phone screen panels, which are typically 800-by-480, 960-by-540, or now 1280-by-720 with the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Nexus and HTC Rezound.
"Look, if you build [an app] for the PlayBook, then it will run on BBX. We have maintained aspect ratios, BBX also has the ability to upload multiple dimension graphics xxx8230; [and the standard resolutions] are the same as PlayBook," he said.
This jibes with recent rumors about the supposedly RIM's first BBX phone. That device has a large, 16:9 touch screen and no physical keyboard. The mention of "multiple dimension graphics" (which in context referred to sizes, not 3D) also opens up the possibility of different screen sizes in the future, maybe some compatible with a traditional BlackBerry form factor.
Saunders' description of the first BBX phones also agrees with what RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis said at a meeting all the way back in January when we asked him what the then-unnamed, QNX-based phone OS would look like. He held up a PlayBook, and said, "like this."
Saunders also confirmed that BBX phones would have all of the platform features that the PlayBook has when they launch, including native email and BES support. "I think you're seeing an evolution of a platform xxx8230; you should not expect [BBX] to be behind the PlayBook," he said.
RIM has officially set February 2012 as the launch date for the next version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS with native e-mail and Android app support, among many other new features. The company has said the first BBX phones will also be coming out early next year.
RIM Invites Nokia Exiles
Saunders came to New York to promote RIM's developer tools and strategy. He said the BlackBerry platform has 70 million subscribers, and there are currently 46,000 apps in BlackBerry App World. BlackBerry developers are making money, too: 13 percent of BlackBerry developers have made more than $100,000, Saunders said.
To attract developers, RIM is pouring on the dev kits. Since the PlayBook is POSIX-compliant, RIM has been porting over as many development environments as it can, including Sencha, Boost, and most notably Qt.
Qt was Nokia's preferred developer framework before the company switched to Windows Phone, and there's a population of disgruntled Symbian developers with Qt skills watching their potential market decline as Nokia switches over to Windows. RIM isn't targeting Symbian developers specifically, but the company is reaching into Nokia's traditional home turf.
"We have folks on the ground in Europe, Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, China, Asia-Pacific xxx8230; We're not specifically targeting the Symbian community, but Qt is obviously there," Saunders said.
Gaming will also be a big priority for RIM, Saunders said, with "tons of [high-end games] coming to the store" and the possibility of enhancing gaming by using BlackBerry Messenger as a back channel for multiplayer game data.
The ability to hook into BBMxxx8212;possibly RIM's most attractive consumer service right nowxxx8212;has made some apps tremendously successful, Saunders said.
"It's caused a social, viral explosion in app distribution," with 10 percent of the downloads from RIM's App World in any given month being the 200 BBM-connected apps, he said.
Whether they're writing Java apps, native apps, using RIM's WebWorks kit to create HTML5-based apps, repackaging Android apps for the upcoming Android emulator, or using one of the third-party app frameworks, ultimately developers can make money on the BlackBerry platform, and that's going to draw more apps, Saunders said.
"There's a market for BlackBerry software there, if you're a developer. There's a 70-million-strong customer base you can target with your applications," he concluded.
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