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There's a new mobile operating system on the block, and you can call it BBX.
Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) just announced its new mobile operating-system strategy at its BlackBerry DevCon developer conference. BBX will be a single and unified OS that will run on smartphones, tablets, and embedded devices, similar to Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) iOS strategy.
It will leverage the $200 million purchase of QNX that RIM made last year. The new OS is taking the best of the BlackBerry platform and the best of the QNX platform and tossing them into a digital mixing bowl.
Long ago, Research In Motion had promised support for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) Android apps for its underwhelming PlayBook and has mostly under delivered on that vow. The Playbook OS 2.0 Developer Beta that was also introduced will include developer tools to bring Android apps to PlayBook tablets. All four attendees of the conference were thoroughly enthused by the announcements.
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis declined to elaborate on when current BlackBerry 7 phones would get BBX updates, and the smartphone and tablet platforms will remain segregated for now but eventually will migrate toward "this single platform and single vision." Lazaridis was also quick to point out that the company is up to 70 million subscribers.
It's a tough spot to be in for Research In Motion; the company is jettisoning smartphone market share at the hands of Apple and Google, and its only play in the growing tablet market has been an absolute failure. In the two quarters since the PlayBook's launch, the company has shipped -- not necessarily sold -- roughly 700,000 tablets, with last quarter's shipments shrinking to 200,000 shipments. The company still has a wide installed base that it can't abandon, so throwing in the towel completely isn't an option, either.
BBX will be Research In Motion's last shot at a turnaround, but the odds are stacked heavily against it. Not even the inclusion of Android support will be enough to save RIM. The company needs to listen to its unhappy shareholders and make some meaningful changes, starting with corporate governance.
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