RIM announces Android app support for PlayBook Tablet
By Joseph D. Lienjdlien. Monday, March 28, 2011 1:23:02 AM
RIM has made it official: The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet due to be released later this year will support applications designed for Android devices.
With the recent launch of the iPad 2, and the dizzying popularity of that device, and a corresponding influx of new applications optimized for the Apple tablet (including an upcoming release of Opera Mini) it is clear that the BlackBerry's entrance into this market would be hard pressed to get much attention unless RIM could launch a product with access to a wide variety of applications. In supporting Android Apps, it seems that RIM will manage to do this.
How this works isn't as straightforward as it would be on, well, an Android device (via the Android Marketplace). For the apps to work, they run in what RIM calls an "App Player". Developers will have to repackage, sign, and submit existing apps to BlackBerry App World -- but it effectively makes it a cinch for developers to get their existing apps into the hands of a new set of users.
This ensures that RIM gets their cut of paid app sales, and prevents them from potentially stepping on Google's toes from a legal perspective, I suppose.
From the previews that have been shown, the PlayBook actually looks like a mighty impressive tablet. Of course, there will also be a C/C++ Native Development Kit for the Playbook, but it's good to know that developers will have this flexibility of using existing apps without having to do extensive porting to get them working on the tablet. This could be good news for Opera fans since it may mean that Opera Mini and Opera Mobile for Android could make their way over to the new RIM tablet far more quickly than a native version would.
What is probably most impressive about news like this is just how far and how fast this market has come in this last year. We literally went from having no real mass-market consumer tablets on the market to the introduction of the iPad and its runaway success, and then a huge influx of them coming our way this year -- many of which were introduced at CES in January.
Given that Apple's marketshare pretty much is the tablet market, it's good to see some other solid competitive options out there on different platforms and from a variety of different manufacturers.