Research In Motion will release two app players this summer that let BlackBerry PlayBook users download BlackBerry Java apps and those based on Google's Android operating system.
Research In Motion March 24 said its BlackBerry PlayBook
tablet computer will support applications based on Google's Android operating
system as well as BlackBerry Java apps.
RIM earlier this week pledged
to sell the 7-inch PlayBook April 19
in Best Buy, Office Depot, RadioShack, Staples and carriers in the United States and
Canada. Like Apple's iPad, PlayBook pricing is $499 for a 16GB version, $599
for 32GB and $699 for 64GB.
Since news of the PlayBook began evolving several months
ago, analysts expressed concern
that RIM wouldn't be able to cultivate enough application
content to tempt users.
This issue became especially salient as Apple's iTunes
application store swelled to host 350,000 applications. News trickled out
in February that RIM was testing how to run Android apps in the
PlayBook, rumors that proved true ahead of the tablet's launch.
To address the apparent dearth of apps for users, RIM
this summer will release
two "app players" that PlayBook users may download to
install any of 25,000 BlackBerry Java apps and some 200,000 Android apps from
BlackBerry App World.
The app players will be placed in a secure
"sandbox" on the PlayBook where the BlackBerry Java or Android apps
can be run. This should appease the enterprise-minded users with IT security
This will effectively give PlayBook users access to
225,000-plus apps. This is still less than those available for the iPad, but
far more than those available for current Android 3.0 "Honeycomb"
tablets such as the Motorola Xoom. The Xoom launched last month with only 100 Honeycomb
It should be highlighted here that the Android apps RIM
is making available are based on the Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" OS
intended for Android smartphones, not the Honeycomb build Google has optimized
for the running on the larger screen size tablets feature.
With a 7-inch screen, the PlayBook fits that bill so it
might give some developers and tech-savvy consumers pause before purchasing a
PlayBook for the Android apps.
Interestingly, Google told eWEEK it has delayed releasing
the source code for Honeycomb to open source, claiming it has more refining of
the OS to do before it can deliver the code for use in phones and gadgets.
RIM's new app players won't be available for download
from Blackberry App World until this summer. However, RIM promised to preview
the BlackBerry Java and Android apps' players at BlackBerry World in Orlando,
Fla., May 3 to 5.
Meanwhile, RIM said its earnings would slip to
between $1.47 and $1.55 a share.