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RIM Porting Native Email & Pin Java Apps to the BlackBerry PlayBook?


I am really scratching my head on this one. Luis and Ashley pointed out to me a ZDNet UK Interview done awhile back (May 14th) with RIM’s software CTO, David Yach, covering a few topics. There are a few juicy tidbits in here but there is one part that I am having trouble deciphering. When asked by ZDNets Mary Branscombe how RIM plans on bringing the PlayBook and BlackBerry OS 7 together he gives a very interesting answer. Read this and tell me what you think it means:

We’ve shown that on PlayBook already — that was what was running inside the BlackBerry player that we announced. How better to prove the BlackBerry (Java) player is real if it can run the most complex apps that run on BlackBerry today which are our own email, PIM and calendar apps? That will be our path for taking those apps to market on the PlayBook.

We have heard rumblings that RIM was planning on bringing the BlackBerry email (BIS/BES) experience to the PlayBook by porting at first but I didn’t realize that it could simply be playing those apps in the “Java Player” for the PlayBook. We have spoken about this a few times but this is the closest I have ever heard of RIM actually going out and saying it would be so. The thing is that would require RIM to develop quite a few more private API’s for the Java Player that don’t exist in the current BlackBerry Java platform. Let me know what you think.

David goes a bit more into the issue a little further in the interview when asked how the PlayBook will be managed in the Enterprise in the future:

By effectively taking the BlackBerry 7 apps, BES comes along with that, BIS [BlackBerry Internet Service] comes along, all the closed security model comes along. What we are doing on the BES side is enabling the capability for BES to handle more than one device.

That seems to continue that same train of thought… What does “Taking the BlackBerry 7 Apps” mean? Personally RIM has a very strong communications suite in their BlackBerry Java email and PIM apps and it makes alot of sense to bring them over. The thing is that whole suite comes with legacy “baggage” which I am not sure is a great thing for a new platform. For example, there is no need for the data sipping practices RIM uses on a Wi-Fi or 4G tablet. On the other hand the BlackBerry java communications platform is certified secure and is RIM’s cornerstone feature.

I highly recommend you check out the full interview at ZDNet and feel free to report back with your thoughts!

17 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I remember a video on the official Inside BlackBerry blog where they showed the “native” Playbook e-mail app.

    You could see that it was launched in an app called “BlackBerry Player”. The UI resembled the one on BlackBerry phones 1:1, even the radio indicators were there.

    Here is a screenshot:

  2. makes my brain hurt…. as long as it works, it works and I will be happy

  3. By this it is evident that RIM is playing the game very safe by bringing the key pieces of the puzzle with surgical precision. Voice, email, messaging/communications, security, multitasking and multi-media are the key modules that are very important to any mobile OS and which usually takes a longer time to develop and test. RIM is planning it intelligently solving 3 important things of the puzzle namely OS multitasking, multimedia, and internet with playbook and next they are bringing on the other key ingredients which made the Blackberry a success namely email, voice and security. Some may argue why not native PIM apps in C/C++ but there are some key things which RIM cannot risk like proven secured communications, on-board encryption of data(no other platform today provides this feature), data compression, enterprise (BES/BIS) backward compatibility, and more importantly the timelines. As Jim B pointed out that transition is the place where companies are doomed and the major lesson learnt from all the failures is that those companies failed to maintain continuity/back compatibility of their old OS like in the case of Palm or now WP7(no enterprise compatibility at all). As far data sipping is concerned it can be altered in java and there is no legacy baggage as such. Java is not a legacy but Java based OS is a legacy and QNX is not a java based and just supports java programming and email will be one other app which will built on java.

    • Oddly enough I was thinking the exact same thing. Wait, no. I was thinking of grabbing a beer and trying to decipher what it is you said lol. In any event I like that RIM is taking their time to get it right.

  4. What I like about this report is that if RIM needs to run their own apps on the PB Java player, it means the player will be exercised and tested all the more. Good news for those of us who would like to see BB apps run on the PlayBook.

  5. Well, if they really do plan to bring E-Mail via the current BES/BIS mechanisms, then I’m *very* eager for the BlackBerry Player to become available so I can try to port my 3rd party “alternative”. 😉

  6. Not surprising. When you consider how complex it is to make a fully functional email client – and when you consider that even today they don’t really have a client do much as a solid front end for push email… it just wouldnt make sense for them to develop a complete client from scratch. Much easier to use the architecture they are already developing to support legacy apps, and use their own very well proven legacy app.

  7. oh when will it come? bridging on my curve is such a pain!

  8. This was known and it’s supposed to be so. RIM can’t re-write again those robust things in C/C++ and never in Flash/HTML.

  9. All the pieces are coming together. RIMM is very methodical in their thinking. I believe when all the pieces and acquisitions come together, it will produce a powerful combination of QNX/BlackBerry/Android apps combined with a fresh, user friendly UI and Blackberry’s patented security. The future looks bright for RIMM.

  10. I need to stop reading BR and Crackberry, they make time stand still. It always seems like things are “coming” to the market and are never here. I know some of it is RIM’s fault, but honestly I feel like I’ve had the playbook for a year, has it even been 2 months yet?

    I think the guy above is right, there is nothing wrong with java per se. It is RIM’s old OS that is the problem and it happend to be written in Java. I have to add that my phone never crashes from the use of PIM apps.

    All I hope for is that when it comes just make it pretty, please. Pretty please!

  11. I am just hoping they change it to where you can authenticate directly to RIM using your BBID instead of having to go through a carrier. I am about to ditch my torch w/ at&t for a virgin mobile phone but want to use my playbook via the new phones wifi hotspot. That way I can still have my BBM, email, etc. That is what I am hoping for.

    • I actually heard this IS what RIM is about to do… Initiate BBID as a means of easy access and also as a better way to track their sales/app info/ even heard as a possib way to track down users w/crack/pirated apps ect.. Def will see a lot more from BBID

  12. The java player is interesting. Does this give any validity to what kevin @crackberry was saying about a “hybrid os” update to all os 7 devices with 8 gigs of on board memory. That qnx would run phone operation ie: 3g/4g radio stack, apps etc… and the java player would run bis/bes in the background? That would be awsome. I’d hate to pony up for a 9900 this fall just to have qnx super phones come out 6-12 months later. If it can run this “hybrid os”, that would hold me over.

  13. I don’t think it does. RIM has made it pretty clear that QNX essentially requires dual cores. If QNX is important to you I would suggest waiting for next year’s lineup. The move makes sense from a business perspective – while consumers do want newer phones from RIM remember that the vast majority are completely unaware of the underlying OS. Those of us who frequent sites like these are the exception rather than the rule.

  14. how are they going to charge for the service? for those over wifi ?
    i guess it will, playbook has its own pin number, i hope this happens soon

  15. I wanna see how well that will work together 🙂

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