RIM announced well in advance of the PlayBook’s launch that it would be able to play nice with certain Android apps, but aside from a leaked beta, PlayBook owners still have nothing to show for it. RIM may not play the waiting game again with their forthcoming string of QNX-powered BlackBerrys though, as the word from Waterloo is that they will be able to run Android apps right out of the gate.
Bloomberg’s sources close to the project have said the Android App Player will be part of the stock software on QNX BlackBerrys when they launch in early 2012. While the addition could potentially add thousands of apps to RIM’s underpopulated App World, it may not be as straightforward as one may hope.
When RIM revealed the concept of the App Player, they noted interested users couldn’t just download Android apps from the market and have them run. Rather, developers would have to repackage their code into order to make it into BlackBerry App World. RIM makes it sound like a trivial process (developers will “be able to quickly and easily port their apps”), and they should certainly hope it is — an inconvenienced dev may not see the need to deal with the process if it turns out to be a headache.
While RIM’s most recent BlackBerry efforts have been generally well-received, its aging OS can only do so much. QNX is quite possibly BlackBerry’s last chance at holding onto mobile relevance, and superior Android app support could only help the cause. The PlayBook’s App Player launch (supposedly slated for this fall) will be one to watch: if it performs well, then RIM may have just the one-two punch they need to stay in the game. If it doesn’t, well, I’ll miss those keyboards dearly.