At DevCon Americas in San Francisco, Research in Motion (RIM) announced its next-generation mobile software development platform dubbed BlackBerry BBX, a marriage between the BlackBerry OS and the QNX real-time operating system meant to springboard the company forward in enterprise mobile computing. The wildcard, BBX, has no delivery date but the single-platform central message targets software developers with new features and device support.

Targeting Apps Developers

RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis is mincing no words as his team is playing catch-up with Apple and Google in the mobile computing space.  Central to that strategy is apps creation and attracting the talent to build those next generation mobile apps. "At DevCon, we're giving developers the tools they need to build richer applications and we're providing direction on how to best develop their smartphone and tablet apps as the BlackBerry and QNX platforms converge into our next-generation BBX platform."

And the company “gets it,” as the way to attract independent software developers is with an efficient platform to generate the customer downloads that translate into profits. "With nearly 5 million BlackBerry apps downloaded daily, our customers have made BlackBerry one of the most profitable platforms for developers," Lazaridis said.

WebWorks Existing Phone, Tablet Support

Developers that want to support both existing smartphones (running the BlackBerry 6 and BlackBerry 7 OS) and BlackBerry PlayBook tablets can monetize apps on both platforms with BlackBerry WebWorks, which supports apps built on HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. The latest release, BlackBerry WebWorks SDK 2.2 (supporting both smartphones and tablets), is now available and includes updates for the new PlayBook OS SDK, PlayBook Simulator.

The BlackBerry WebWorks APIs are supported by the Ripple Emulator, a browser-like emulation tool that allows developers to test and debug their applications on multiple platforms and devices without having to compile or launch simulators. Starting today, the Ripple Emulator is available in beta and can also be downloaded from RIM's WebWorks Developer site.

Combining the Best of Two Platforms

But BBX is the big news. Poised as the next-generation platform for BlackBerry smartphones and tablets, it combines the best of BlackBerry and the best of QNX and is designed "from the ground up" to enable the real-time mobile experiences that helps distinguish BlackBerry products and services. The BBX platform will include BBX-OS, and will support BlackBerry cloud services and development environments for both HTML5 and native developers.

BBX will also support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook -- including Native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps -- on future BBX-based tablets and smartphones.