- CrackBerry Addict
- 593 Posts
It's all about QNX - and it changes everything. [ESSAY]
I like to read about things I don’t understand.
Call me crazy, but its way more interesting than reading about stuff I already know a lot about. So recently I’ve been reading up on BB10 and more importantly, about the underlying QNX operating system – about which I knew very little. Probably like most folks, I had just assumed that BB10 was a long-overdue rewrite of BB’s old, obsolete O/S. Definitely cool, but a me-too thing - nothing to get terribly excited about.
However, after the 4th or 5th ‘techie’ article I found myself thinking - ‘Holy crap! If Blackberry can execute on this BB10/QNX thing, it’s going to be massive!’
I realized that if (a big if) Blackberry successfully ‘mass-consumerizes’ QNX via its new BB10 based smartphones (and potentially the Playbook) it could be the most disruptive and transformative advancement in mobile communications/computing technology since the advent of the Internet.
Yup - THAT big.
It’s all about QNX, and it changes everything.
Once I wrapped my brain understood what made QNX unique, the brilliance of Blackberry’s decision to base its next generation, hand-held ‘mobile computing device’ (aka smartphone) became apparent. It may rank as one of the most visionary and audacious technology plays ever made.
It all started for me when Andrew MacLeod of Blackberry Canada stated that BB10 is “… a platform for mobile computing, and that's really the core objective of the company because that's going to define our future”. Hmm, I thought, isn’t that an interesting thing for a cell phone company executive to sa.y
Then I read Thorsten Hein on the record saying “…soon we will give you ways to connect your mobile experience not just to other people but to the world around you. You will be in the middle of things and you will be connected to the internet of things; this is what being connected will mean in the future. We have created a platform that's able to work with other machines, to extend you beyond mobile devices to a car, to your home, to a healthcare system, to wherever you are." (Emphasis mine).
Ok, now I was intrigued. But was it just marketing hyperbole, or was there something deeper? I started to read articles about concepts like ‘real-time operating systems’ (RTOS), ‘micro kernel architecture’, ‘Machine–to–Machine’ (M2M) computing, ‘transparent distributed processing’, and the ‘Internet of Things’ (I of T). I was in deep, way over my head – but in many of these articles I kept finding references back to QNX. A coincidence?
So there was something here – this wasn’t just an attempt by Blackberry to just catch-up with the other smartphone vendors, perhaps this was bigger – possibly a move to completely leap-frog the competition and transform the entire mobile communications and computing industry over the next decade. Now that would very cool!
Is BB10 on QNX poised to be the world’s first successful mass deployment of an internet/wirelessly linked, transparent distributed processing operating system into the hands of the average consumer? If so, what would that really mean? Surely the vision was more than just the ability to smoothly multi-task, video-calling with friends while playing Angry Birds at the same time!
The reality is that for 99.9% of smartphone users (today), BB 10 is really nothing more than a slick new smartphone operating system that plays catch-up and raises the BB user experience up to a level comparable with iOS, Android, etc. (some would argue well beyond). So it is not surprising that most analysis of the features and benefits of the new phones and OS never goes beyond the cosmetic level - the user interface, the hardware performance, the physical design, the available apps, etc..(Based on a quick survey of initial reviews, at this basic level of evaluation BB10 and the Z10 are doing just fine, thank-you. Whew!)
But what if BB10, the Z10, the Q10, etc. was not the end-game, but just the means to the end – the global propagation of the world’s first inter-connected operating system for the “Internet of Things”.? Yes – that’s more like it! Total global domination!!
THAT would be a big, hairy, audacious goal truly worthy of a man like Mike Lazaridis (who also gifted $ 100 million to the Perimeter Institute to help advance quantum theory to help discover the origin of the universe and thus the meaning of life…).
So what would be so revolutionary about 10 million, 50 million, maybe someday 100+ million smartphones and tablets running QNX?
The following articles provided some good insight. These reviewers helped me understand that is not just about the handset. The article by Mary Branscombe, ZDNET BlackBerry 10: Forget about the phone - it's the OS that really counts, opened up my eyes, than I found the article by Karl Denniger on the Market Ticker website: How Blackberry Can Win (Big) In The Mobile World. It’s been discussed already on Crackberry. This one is very good, but it was buried deep in the reader comments that I had my true ‘aha moment’. The most enlightening observations and truly fascinating insights are found here, postings from some obviously very smart and knowledgeable technical people who also ‘get it’. Here is one excerpt:
“… consider that today your device in your pocket is limited by what fits in the device. We have things like "Dropbox" to try to get around that. Ok, now at my house I have a ****ing HUGE media and data server. I CAN get to things on it from my phone, but it's a pain in the ***….So I read on: other relevant articles/videos include:
… Contemplate a device that can access and use any resource on any other device without knowing anything special about it. A camera is just a source of image data. A data storage device streams bytes or blocks. A printer is a sink of image data. An audio output device can be anywhere -- on your phone, on the next guy's over, etc. Same for a screen, a microphone, or whatever.
We don't think of devices this way, but QNX always has. It's a result of the microkernel view of design, something that's unique.
…It's an entirely different way of thinking about how a computer works and how the pieces go together. Today, I have to worry about all this to make things work. If I want console access to my server I need to do special things with IPMI/KVM to accomplish it. For remote disk access to my home network I have to play with things like SAMBA and a VPN. I can't easily get to the webcam on my desktop machine from 5,000 miles away, because it's driven by a device driver on that computer.
All this changes with the QNX model.”
The Future of RIM, may have very little to do with cellphones
Machine to Machine Opportunities for Investors (BNN Video)
QNX: RIM's Trojan Horse
RIM – BB10 True End-Game is QNX & NOC!
(Read these articles and watch the video to get a deeper understanding about the potential of a hand-held device running the QNX operating system in the hands of tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of consumers, immersed in a world full of other QNX powered devices.)
After immersing myself into these and other technical articles, and extrapolating 5– 10 years down the road, I think I understand at least a little sliver of the enormous vision that people like Lazaridis and Dan Dodge (the co-creator of QNX) have for the future. If the next ‘really big thing’ in technology is the mass adoption of a world-wide, commercially viable, inter-connected transparent distributed processing platform (I call it the ‘operating system of the world’), then it looks like the only game in town right now is Blackberry, and with the successful launch of BB10, they have begun the process of building what will be a truly massive, truly sustainable competitive advantage over any other would-be contender to the throne.
Dan had the technology, but not the means to take it to the consumer market and gain critical mass. Mike had the consumer vehicle but needed a new platform to differentiate from Apple and Google. Add smart, patient investors like Prem Watsa - who had the money - and combined, possibly - just possibly - Blackberry will change the mobile computing world as we know it.
Time will tell if Blackberry can execute. It will take a decade or longer to develop and mature the Internet of Things. It could easily become highly fragmented. Blackberry will have to partner with major consumer hardware vendors that manufacture smart devices, but at least they already have a great head-start given their dominant position in certain markets like the key automotive industry, where they already have a 60% market share. As Lazaridis said (very slyly, not wanting to show his cards at the time) when asked about the relevance of the QNX acquisition – ‘we believe a car is a great accessory for a Blackberry’. Turns out the accessory list goes way beyond just cars!
Well played, Mike - well played.
I now await the first hard evidence of the viability of QNX to operate in a consumer based, distributed computing environment. Perhaps it will be a Z10 doing something truly amazing with a car – that seems likely - or maybe it will be how well the Z10/Q10 and a BB10/QNX powered Playbook work (and play) together. Both devices from Blackberry, so who better to prove it can work? Will the Z10 O/S really be a transparent, distributed extension of the Playbook O/S, and vice-versa? Will a user be able to seamlessly access the physical assets on either device (e.g. camera, gps, etc.) without the need for a now suddenly obsolete ‘app’ to bridge? And once my phone/car/tablet starts acting as one, why not my TV, game console, elevator pass, ATM, coffee machine, thermostat? Resistance will be fultile....
If 10-15 years down the road the ‘Internet of Things’ becomes a reality, and QNX has become the operating system of the world, anyone who went long (very long) on Blackberry stock today could be shareholders of the most valuable company to ever exist.
(Full disclosure: I bought RIMM at $ 140/share...)Thanked by 27:
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- CrackBerry Abuser
02-22-13, 03:48 PM #2
- 187 Posts
You might be overly optimistic about BlackBerry, but I like your enthusiasm!
I have been saying for over a year now that QNX is BlackBerry 's secret weapon...
However the idea to do this sort of thing originated with apple, when Steve Jobs came back with his BSD based NeXT OS. He knew that the investment in building a next generation OS on a scalable Unix core would give the device flexibility that would drive computing for the next ten to twenty years.
However MacOS and its spinoff iOS have reached their limits, Linux is a mess, and WP8 is still processor dependent like other MS operating systems.
QNX addresses all of the current shortcomings in operating systems at the moment, let's hope BlackBerry can hold on long enough to capitalize on this amazing asset.
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- 02-22-13, 04:44 PM #4
"Now obsolete Bridge". Exactly! Imagine if your z10 and playbook just became extensions of each other. No need to bridge, in fact bridge will seem antiquated - and it's already ahead of anything the competition has.
QNX is an amazing OS.
I eagerly await the BlackBerry future!
- CrackBerry Master
02-22-13, 04:59 PM #6
- 1,249 Posts
very interesting read, though I have read up on it before I got my hands on a BB10 device. I do believe QNX will help save BB and push it into the future. All those bearish boneheads out there making irrational claims are missing this important piece of information.
- CrackBerry User
02-22-13, 05:05 PM #7
- 48 Posts
Very good insight into the future of QNX and Blackberry. I'm very optimistic about the Blackberry devices having QNX as the soul, that's one of the reasons why I purchased BB stocks. Thanks for posting the references, can't wait to get my Z10 when I get home.
- 02-22-13, 05:09 PM #8
I think the concept has a problem. The medium of communication between artifacts is slow, so for example a phone can't directly use the processor of a server because too much time is lost in the transport of small messages between the two devices. It's more efficient that the phone send a big chunk of data to the server for processing and the server send back the full response, but that is exactly what cloud computing is doing right now, with the advantage of being interoperable with any OS and device.
So, how can QNX improve the cloud?
- 02-22-13, 05:22 PM #9
Very nice to see someone without long experience with QNX put together all those pieces, and come to those conclusions. Including useful links... good job!
You've pretty much nailed it all, including the caution about whether they can execute. The potential is all there.. and there's more potential than anyone really could say even today. What matters is how they perform, so they have a chance actually to transform that potential into reality.
This year is probably the defining year in so many ways. If the phones sell -- and aside from the sorry situation with the US all the signs seem to say they are selling -- then I think they're "good to go" with the whole thing. It's not even this quarter that matters the most, though it's very important. It's what the public does in the next quarter, I think, that really determines the future. If they can get BB back in the black, then the vision you've outlined above can definitely come to be, in various ways and at various times.
(This is all why, when I first heard about the PlayBook back in late 2010, and belatedly heard that RIM had bought QNX, my mind was blown... It's a bit simplistic to say that this all derives from the strength of QNX, but that really is true in so many ways that it's not a mistake to put it that way. Very cool stuff... :-) )
- 02-23-13, 06:19 AM #11
First of all, thanks for going to the obvious effort of posting that, it was an excellent post.
I have seen demos of the distributed processing in QNX, it is definitely an interesting aspect. The security challenges will be interesting as well, if this sort of thing is attempted across ie the internet.
Another interesting datapoint re: QNX, based on a German interview with Thorsten Heins the other day: Heins claims that QNX is in 64% of automobiles built today. That's kind of amazing, really.
One minor nitpick:
Microkernel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
What makes QNX interesting is not just the microkernel aspect, but the fact that it is actually an "RTOS" - RealTime Operating System. This is a key reason why it is chosen for high-end mission-critical purposes where the speed of execution of a task must be highly predictable. (Gargantuan top-of-the-line Cisco carrier routers, mission-critical components of nuclear power stations, etc)
In any case, thanks again for an excellent and detailed post.
An example of the kind of thing that runs QNX - Cisco CRS-1 running IOS XR OS.
(Got bandwidth? That box can deliver as much as 92 terabits of data per second. )
Carrier Routing System - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- 02-23-13, 06:38 AM #12
What always makes me wonder is how so many people are so confident in QNXs place as a smartphone or tablet operating system.
That it runs nuclear reactors or whatever is irrelevant.
As a smartphone OS base it was supposed to bring the world on a platter.
Efficiency, multitasking, it would do things you never dreamt of.
Instead, QNX powers the Z10, a device with what most describe as distinctly average battery life. I get a solid 2 days out of my own Z10, but that's because it can't actually do anything, not even messaging yet without WhatsApp, and the email client is awful.
Most reviewers who found something to do with it, said the battery life is average at best, certainly not better than the competing OSes.
The multitasking, you can have 8 active frames at most. Then it starts dropping running apps.
Android and iOS handle more than that.
The whole, nothing will ever crash and updates will be smooth as silk view, has been debunked. The phone crashes. Apps crash. Native apps like the calendar crash, repeatedly.
Updating apps through app world takes a long time, the downloads come in quick, installing takes a while.
Very often I will have updates fail, and need to be reattempted 2 or 3 times, sometimes App World needs to be restarted.
They couldn't get it to play nice with the NOC, so much for ease of programming and use.
They couldn't get it to play nice with notifications and customisations.
The OS is fun to play with and has potential, it needs massive tweaks to be competitive but that's possible.
But it certainly seems like QNX as a base for a smartphone or tablet OS is being, and has been, massively overhyped.
- 02-23-13, 07:05 AM #13
Well let's see:
Guitar effects pedals
Mail sorting machines
Nuclear power plants
Flight simulators (This blog is jammed with amazing examples of what QNX is used in)
Industrial / aerospace systems that run 20 yrs nonstop.. (see comments)
Russian nuclear particle accelerators
Pandora radio in cars (2009 Quote: "As the leading supplier of middleware operating systems for automotive infotainment, QNX has licensed its technology for use in more than 10 million automotive systems, in vehicles from Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Fiat, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Saab, Ssangyong, Toyota, Volkswagen, and others. QNX powers applications in more vehicle models (200) and is used by more automakers and suppliers than all other OS platforms combined.")
The list goes on pretty much forever... I think people get the drift.
Last edited by Omnitech; 02-23-13 at 07:24 AM. Reason: Added nuclear items
- 02-23-13, 07:19 AM #14
The specific BB10 implementation is new and has some teething pains as they just started from scratch. I'm pretty sure most issues people complain about will get addressed.
KB33621-Calendar application crashes when modifying time on a calendar event
- 02-23-13, 07:40 AM #16
Balsillie got kicked to the curb, it's no big surprise he doesn't have much love lost for BBRY any more, or any motivation to keep the stock longterm.
If Lazaridis did the same, then I'd be worried.
(Edit: It appears Lazaridis bought around 300k new shares around the same time Balsillie's divestment became official.)
Last edited by Omnitech; 02-23-13 at 08:16 AM. Reason: Added last sentence
- 02-23-13, 09:23 PM #20
Re: It's all about QNX - and it changes everything. [ESSAY]
Great write up.
QNX is the future.
It runs the MyGig entertainment nav radio systems in my 2 vehicles.
Can't wait for what the QNX future will bring.
- 02-23-13, 09:40 PM #21
Re: It's all about QNX - and it changes everything. [ESSAY]
I'm in.agreement with the above. how well or not qnx runs a nuclear ractor is is irrelevent. smartphones.and tablets aren't nuclear reactors. You might as well praise an OS in a phone based on how well its known to run toaster ovens. There's also a big hole in the OPs argument in the form of a little green robot sitting inside bb10. If you've been following the news lately you'll notice 2 big names in a row now have said, nah we can't be bothered, here's your android runtime app (can't wait to see how dedicated they are to keeping up.with updates on those!). If this trend continues, and I see very little reason to believe it wont, bb10 OS is going to be pinned down by the android runtime for a long time to come. I understand why they did it, and I don't believe BB would have survived without this move, but I don't believe in the performance capability of it. Another agrivating problem aside from two different UX standards, is that there's no API integration. clicking an adress in tbe bb10 browser will not launch a.sideloaded google maps for example. Clicking a link to this forum won't invoke Tapatalk in the android runtime like it would on an android device. QNX is ok but I don't see any clear advantage with how it is on this phone over iOS, WP8, or Android
- CrackBerry Abuser
02-23-13, 09:57 PM #22
- 148 Posts
Re: It's all about QNX - and it changes everything. [ESSAY]
Yup this qnx is great. Send me a bbm from your playbook to my Z10 so I can reply from my playbook - oh right we can't do that since we upgraded ( and me all the way from BB 6.0). And these are two qnx devices. Its really hard to believe that qnx is the future via BBYR.
- CrackBerry Abuser
02-24-13, 12:58 AM #23
- 240 Posts
Wow, you mean they have everything working out of the gate with a brand new operating system! How dare they be great same as iOS and Android or the original BlackBerry! Forshame!
Success for BBRY is long term, short term perspectives make sense in the short term, but are short, for BBRY to truly be successful it will be dependent on their long term thinking, which I think is bold and on the mark!
But thanks, understanding the short term is useful, for the short term.
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- CrackBerry Abuser
02-24-13, 10:34 AM #25
- 148 Posts
Out of the gate Riocan? The Z10 was delayed two years so a finished product could be released. It's far from out of the gate - so far in fact the gate has been left wide open as the rest of the smart phone crowd left about two years ago. Stop drinking the kool aid and set your expectations higher. The Z10 us not revolutionary to anyone except a legacy BlackBerry user. That is not good!
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