Research in Motion is reportedly working on software that would allow its upcoming PlayBook tablet to run Android applications, according to Bloomberg.
The move would give PlayBook users access to Android’s 130,000 apps. That’s one of the smartest things that RIM can do for its unproven tablet, and it would also bolster any future phones running the PlayBook’s QNX operating system. Being able to run Android apps would give RIM access to one of the best aspects of Google’s OS without adopting it entirely. And consumers won’t just be stuck with a small set of launch apps on the PlayBook.
RIM was reportedly considering using Google’s Dalvik Java software weeks ago, but according to Bloomberg it chose not to due to patent disputes between RIM and Oracle, the owner of Java creator Sun Microsystems. The company is now developing its own internal solution, which may be ready by the second half of the year.
RIM’s devices will also be able to run Android apps in a more secure environment than typical Android phones. BlackBerrys are widely known for their security, and RIM is expected to bring that same level of protection to the PlayBook and future devices — something IT departments will greatly appreciate. The Android apps will most likely work in a virtualized software environment that won’t give them direct access to device resources.
Google would also benefit greatly from having its apps available on another platform. It will still gather mobile ad revenue on those apps, which is Google’s main source of revenue from the freely distributed Android OS.