February 11, 2011, 12:45 PM — In the battle for tablet dominance Research in Motion has a wildcard up its sleeve. RIM's tablet, the Blackberry Playbook, can run Android apps designed originally for tablets that run the Android mobile operating system. This is according to reports from Bloomberg that cite three unnamed sources. RIM has not confirmed the report.
The ability to run Android apps would give loyal RIM users the best of both worlds. On one hand they could stick with the trusted RIM ecosystem features, apps, and enterprise services. On the other hand RIM would be able to support the nearly 120,000 apps in the Android Marketplace broadening the Playbook's appeal beyond the office.
The Android Market would make up for the Blackberry Playbook's app deficiencies. The downside for RIM is it could deter app developers from making apps specifically for the RIM Playbook. RIM's Playbook tablet is rumored to be priced at $500 and goes on sale in late April, according to unconfirmed reports.
Rumors Get Louder
Android app support in the Playbook has been rumored since December, when Gleacher & Company analyst Mark McKechnie floated the idea, albeit with some skepticism. Boy Genius Report revived the rumor in late January, reporting that RIM was "very much considering" the Dalvik virtual machine for its Java environment. Because this is the same virtual machine Google uses for Android, BGR speculated that RIM could come to some agreement with Google for Android app support.
Bloomberg's report says RIM will not be using Dalvik virtual machine, due to concerns over a patent dispute between Google and Oracle. Instead, RIM is reportedly developing its own way to support Android apps.
Playbook vs HP Touchpad: Advantage RIM