Great post, stottm.
Originally Posted by stottm
You don't go and buy a Unix real time OS company like QNX and a user interface design company unless you have decided you don't have the internal talent to compete and you need fresh new folks and already built technology.
This is an intensely clear demonstration that they were technologically screwed, and they knew it. Apple did a similar thing and now look where they are... a decade
later. The big difference was that NeXT had a much vaunted GUI and a robust desktop OS, and Apple already had a great deal of in-house GUI expertise.
The PlayBook is running QNX which is a commercial real time Unix suitable for running nuclear power plants, etc. It is fantastic tech!
QNX has been around since the '80s, and is definitely an excellent real-time OS. The requirements of such an OS, however, are not
the same as the requirements for a mobile, tablet or desktop OS. And while RIM is touting their multi-core capabilities, they have yet to prove they can actually ship any such thing. Apple has been shipping multi-core systems for over a decade, their OS (both iOS and MacOSX) has been aggressively optimized for a multi-processor environment -- including OpenCL. Apple's dev tools and OS in this area are second to none, and in the hands of developers for ages.
The OS is one component of delivering a highly parallel solution. The apps are another. RIM isn't even pushing the apps, and their proposed solution to functionality squanders huge amounts of performance and efficiency when compared to native apps implemented in C/C++/ObjC and using technologies like GCD and OpenCL. And before dismissing OpenCL as a desktop technology, consider that from the outset it was designed to consider embedded devices... and for mobile applications, GPUs are some of the most power efficient devices available.
RIM is likely working on a C/C++ based devkit on QNX but they are years away from a decent API. Sure you've got the Unix development env on QNX already but it's not good enough and they need to add a whole new GUI layer with new widgets, etc. to give developers something like the iPhone dev env.
QNX is not something you lightly hand to app developers. It is not designed for mobile networked user apps. Given RIM's previous attempts at apps, this is a disaster in the offing.
The worst thing about this is the loss of QNX to the real-time control industry when RIM finally shrivels and dies after failing to repurpose these technologies.
Try to do all this before Apple simply pulls out advanced tech they have been sitting on and keeping secret. I bet Apple's two or three generations ahead of what's actually shipping today. I think there is an iPhone 5 and maybe 6 or seven in development as well as an iPad 2 or 3. I would not be surprised if there was a Dual Core custom A9 MIPS processor with advanced GPU being tested out with iOS. RIM doesn't have a chance in hell... They fell asleep at the switch and didn't wake until the 4th generation iPhone and iPad hit the street.
The key silicon design firms that Apple acquired years ago are going to start bearing fruit soon. The A4 is just the beginning, and it just looks like a warm-up project. Rumourmills
are notoriously premature in their pronouncements, but it doesn't mean the leaks are inaccurate. Outside the hardware business people are oblivious to how long the development schedules are...
"Next year's model" contained the single core A4, but that doesn't mean the chip described isn't exactly what is coming next year or the year after. And the next GPU core (OpenCL capable)
came available a year ago.
RIM's CEO is spouting in desperation. He doesn't have a choice. They don't have the resources to keep competing for long, and their new product is a dramatic "last chance" maneuver. The other thing Apple got in the purchase of NeXT, what really saved their bacon... was Steve Jobs.