This particular rumor has been in the wind for quite a while now: that RIM might open up its upcoming tablets and smartphones using the QNX OS architecture to allow Android apps to run on their platforms. In fact, one of our contributors, Anton Wahlman opined about this exact same watershed event taking place last year and now we get to see it start to take shape.
And, on top of that, the hullabaloo about Android apps on the PlayBook in the media right now suggesting that they’re the first and only to the front lines seems a little silly. This effect has been a long time in the making and confirmation is simply adding more logs to the fire.
We recently caught new light of this hope when we noticed a reflection of it in an article on Boy Genius today, “Exclusive: BlackBerry PlayBook and smartphones to run Android apps?”. Having one of our contributors vindicated in a good day for us, but exclusive? Hardly.
Let’s see what they have to say,
Here is the big news: we have been told RIM is very much considering the Dalvik virtual machine, and we ultimately expect the company to chose Dalvik. If that sounds familiar to you, it’s because it’s the same VM that the Android OS uses, and it would allow RIM’s PlayBook and other QNX devices to run just about any application built for the Android platform.
There are various approaches to this situation — one where RIM uses the open source Dalvik VM and does not involve Google, and another (incredible) scenario where RIM and Google might reach an agreement (basically “certify” the device/platform) that would provide official support to Android apps on RIM’s QNX-based OS, and would feature the Android Market, Google’s Gmail, Maps, and other apps.
In fact, earlier this month RIM demoed their new PlayBook at CES and, again according to Anton Wahlman, “…showed how the PlayBook runs Android programs that it claims were converted very easily and quickly. I was told that it could be as easy as one programmer spending only a few hours to do the conversion. If this is true, one would think almost every Android program will quickly become available for the PlayBook.” So even if the QNX-OS doesn’t go with Android-native architecture, at least we’ve already seen that people can convert apps extremely swiftly.
As a result of all this new knowledge flowing out of RIM and the possibility that PlayBook and other BlackBerry smartphones might be running Android apps in the future there’s been a media frenzy. Right now, it’s not hard to say that in fact the PlayBook will be including Android apps—because if it doesn’t, it may be one of the most staggering disappointments to hit the mobile tech industry this year.
I keep mentioning smartphones because the QNX-based OS has also been planned for RIM handsets and not just the tablet. The greater meaning of this is that suddenly an entire array of RIM devices will become Android-enabled, generating an entire new market for Android to move into and it also means that curious BlackBerry customers won’t have to give up their already beloved platform in order to get into the app ecology.
As the Boy Genius article suggests, having Android Marketplace available for BlackBerry devices and official apps would be an incredible scenario.
The partnership would in fact bring Google a supremacy unseen in the app market today.
Android developers, start your engines!