RIM will be launching the BlackBerry PlayBook and its QNX-powered operating system next month, but outside of a statement from a RIM exec claiming that QNX will eventually replace the BlackBerry OS on smartphones, there hasn't been much indication as to what RIM plans to do when it comes time to bring QNX to its handsets. Today more news on the company's future OS plans has come to light, though, courtesy of the folks at Berry Review. According to some notes passed to them from a developer keynote today, RIM is cranking away on a project internally referred to as "Highlander" which will combine the best pieces of OS 6.1 and the QNX OS to form the BlackBerry 7 OS. The name has to do with a "There can be only one" theme, meaning OS 7 will eventually make its way to both the company's smartphones and the PlayBook. Obviously there's no solid launch date for OS 7 just yet, but RIM is said to be in the "early stages" of the software and are currently planning to push it out next year.
What about the (almost) here and now? The report claims that OS 6.1 is lagging behind schedule because of some miscommunication between the various teams working on it but that RIM is happy with the progress so far, especially the "Liquid Graphics" in the OS. Still, RIM acknowledges that OS 6.1 is showing its age and is having its limits pushed.
Earlier this year, we saw a number of upcoming BlackBerrys leak which will supposedly sport BlackBerry 6.1 when they do arrive. There was no information in the leaks pertaining to a release date, but we've heard that the Monaco (Storm 3) and Montana (Bold Touch) could arrive either near the end of Q2 or the beginning of Q3. Of course, the question here is whether these devices will be enough to help RIM continue to fight off competitors like Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 7. We won't know for sure until we get to take the new software and hardware for a spin, but I hope that RIM's got something big up their sleeve for 6.1; 2012 and OS 7 are still pretty far off.