RIM Jams Android-Friendly Features Into BBX

BlackBerry this week has come out with several software-related advances to help it in the consumer and enterprise markets. The company released its latest operating system update, dubbed BBX; it launched a new enterprise app store; and it introduced BlackBerry Jam, a new set of services designed to make building mobile apps for the platform easier for developers.

BBX is a single, open platform made for phones, tablets and embedded devices, QNX founder Dan Dodge told attendees at RIM’s Developer Conference Tuesday. It is designed to combine the best of the old BlackBerry OS and its future smartphone platform, QNX.

The execs didn’t show off any BBX-based smartphones, but they talked up the software's Android-friendly features on the PlayBook including BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and HTML 5 support. The next version of the PlayBook will also feature a “Work” tab where CIOs can add company-specific apps. (See OS Watch: RIM Embraces Android at Arm's Length.)

The company's Jam developer community will make it easier to submit apps for BBX and make money from the platform, according to RIM's VP of Developer Relations and Ecosystems Development Alec Saunders. He used his time on stage to dispel "myths" about BlackBerry App World, such as that it is stagnant, difficult and unprofitable. RIM says BlackBerry App World is seeing more than 140 million downloads per month, and Saunders says it’s the second most profitable app store on the market (behind Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)).

Why this matters
RIM’s announcements are focused on Android developers and making it easier to port their apps over to BBX. Even if BlackBerry App World is more profitable, Android is capturing the most momentum and developer interest. (See RIM Supports Android & Apple in the Enterprise.)

The company’s strength has historically been in the enterprise, but it has lost ground to Apple, Android and others as IT departments have loosened their device policies. Now it’s following the wireless operators and other handset makers into enterprise apps, positioned as the next market for growth in mobile apps. (See Managing Enterprise Mobile Apps.)

For more
RIM’s Developer Conference came right after the company experienced a global outage, something co-CEO Mike Lazaridis apologized for again on Tuesday. Read up on RIM's challenges:

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:51:03 PM
re: RIM Jams Android-Friendly Features Into BBX

I'm really surprised RIM didn't show off hardware with all the new software updates. That's what'll really make it real for developers. Maybe later in the conference...I hope.

Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:50:59 PM
re: RIM Jams Android-Friendly Features Into BBX

No kidding. And as for the timing, it was a challenging day for RIM to announce its OS update, what with Moto's new RAZR, Google's Ice Cream Sandwich and Samsung's Galaxy Nexus, and Apple's results. 

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