BlackBerry going with QNX; Java ME to lose its highest-profile OS?

Interesting news from Bloomberg about BlackBerry's rumored BlackPad tablet. According to anonymous sources "familiar with the plans," the new tablet will run not a version of the BlackBerry OS, but a QNX variant. These sources "didn't know the specific reasons for the decision, though one person said it may have been simpler and faster to use QNX because the BlackBerry 6 includes legacy software code from older BlackBerry phones."

BlackBerry OS is the grandaddy of smartphone operating systems, but like all such incrementally advancing systems, it no doubt contains a lot of cruft; one can see the appeal to RIM of going with a whole new system. (RIM bought QNX back in the spring; at the time, speculation was that the move was about car integration.) It's not out of the question that RIM might hope to move its new QNX-based OS to next-generation BlackBerry handhelds if the BlackPad system goes well.

But one potential big loser in such a move would be the Java ME platform. Right now BlackBerry OS is the only major high-end smartphone platform with a development environment primarily based on Java ME. It seems likely that there would be some kind of bridging environment that would allow existing BlackBerry apps to run under the new system. But QNX is a Unix-like system with POSIX APIs, and could support a wider range of programming languages; RIM may not want to pay Oracle for those Java ME licenses any longer than necessary. It could be another nail in the coffin for the mobile Java platform.