RIM’s Android play: 5 questions

The BlackBerry PlayBook will run Android apps -- which? When? And what does it all mean?

By Melissa J. Perenson, PC World |  Personal Tech, Android, apps

Even if QNX becomes established on BlackBerry phones, we still don't know whether Android apps will be able to be run in the same controlled (or, "sandboxed" as RIM has put it) manner on phone handsets. One of the wild cards is scaling apps to match the BlackBerry screen sizes -- a hurdle that may be too great to cross. Or it may prove to be no hurdle at all, since one could presume that a so-called "superphone" -- a term used during the earnings call but not defined -- will have a large screen that would match the screens found on most Android devices.

3. Is this good for developers?

Yes, absolutely. One of the big questions about a fragmented and competitive mobile operating system universe is that developers must choose where to put their resources. By having an easy (according to RIM, at least) way for developers to move their content to BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet OS, the door opens wide for Android developers to migrate their content to a new audience and new revenue stream. Developers must wrap the app in a BlackBerry container, and add some identifying code; then, they can upload the app to BlackBerry App World at no charge.

Of course, one of the wild cards here is that these apps will run in a sandboxed, virtual machine environment on the PlayBook. This means we don't know yet how, exactly, the app will behave on the PlayBook when it comes to such mainstay features as multitasking, location-based services, and notifications.

4. Is this a good move for RIM?

Another resounding yes here. It's a very shrewd and calculated move, one that adds instant credibility to the PlayBook tablet just weeks ahead of its launch. RIM has, for the past few months, done a good job talking up how PlayBook supports HTML5, Adobe AIR, and Adobe Flash programming environments, but the company hasn't done as good a job showing exactly how those programming formats translate into a competitive and compelling user experience vis a vis what consumers can get today from Google's Android and Apple's iOS. It's not that I doubt those environments' capabilities; but the dearth of actual programs written in them today leaves the question on the table.


Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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