RIM juices BlackBerry with new tablet OS, in-app ads

With Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google's Android closing in fast, Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) is looking to re-energize developer interest in its BlackBerry platform with a series of new initiatives and solutions unveiled at its annual BlackBerry DevCon event, taking place this week in San Francisco. Chief among the announcements: The BlackBerry PlayBook, a tablet device running a brand-new operating system, the BlackBerry Tablet OS. Promising a seven-inch LCD touchscreen, dual HD cameras and WiFi/Bluetooth 2.1 support, with 3G and 4G models forthcoming, the PlayBook touts Adobe Flash-enabled web browsing, multitasking and high-definition multimedia playback as well as out-of-the-box enterprise support. According to RIM, the accompanying BlackBerry Tablet OS is built upon the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture and boasts full POSIX compliance, enabling easy portability of C-based code alongside support for Open GL for 2D and 3D graphics intensive applications (e.g., gaming). RIM notes the Tablet OS also supports Java, enabling developers to translate existing BlackBerry 6 apps to the PlayBook format, and runs apps built in Adobe Mobile AIR.

The BlackBerry Tablet OS additionally runs apps built on the new BlackBerry WebWorks platform, also unveiled at DevCon 2010. WebWorks enables web developers to create full-featured BlackBerry apps entirely in HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, bringing together existing BlackBerry web development tools along with new resources and platform services. RIM promises access to core BlackBerry features like multitasking, Push technology and Locate services as well as new web APIs and the BlackBerry Web Plug-Ins 2.5, giving developers the flexibility to start their application in the background, the homescreen or a download folder.

Also new: BlackBerry Advertising Service, enabling developers to incorporate in-app promotions spanning ad networks including Amobee, Jumptap, Lat49, Millennial Media and Mojiva. According to RIM, BlackBerry Advertising Service includes a simple-to-integrate SDK supporting both standardized MMA advertisements and HTML5 Rich Media, as well as ads with one-click in-application access to core BlackBerry functions like Contacts, Calendar, Media Player and BlackBerry App World. The solution also boasts a mediation console for developers to manage their ad allocations and access analytics as well as tracking and reporting features.

But wait... there's more! RIM introduced the BlackBerry Messenger Social Platform, a toolkit for building apps leverage social components of the BBM service. Developers can now integrate BBM functions like chat capabilities, content sharing, invitations, contact lists, user profiles, data transfer and app-specific communities. Last but not least, RIM rolled out BlackBerry Enterprise Application Middleware, a development platform featuring APIs, libraries and server software touting simplified creation of "super apps" with access to instant data push and alerts, file transfers, geo-location, presence and other enterprise-ready services.

For more on the BlackBerry Tablet OS:
- read this release

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