Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The BlackBerry and Android Mix: A Match Made in Mobile Heaven?

There is a rumor buzzing around that the upcoming tablet PC from Research in Motion, the BlackBerry PlayBook, will have the ability to run apps designed for Google’s Android operating system. For a company that has fallen far behind its competitors in terms of app development, the technological savvy and coolness of Android paired with the enterprise and functionality of the BlackBerry could make for a winning combination.

Although the BlackBerry once led the smartphone race, in recent years the innovative advances of Android and iPhone handsets have made it difficult for the mobile platform to keep pace. The BlackBerry App World, for example, was a necessary step for BlackBerry functionality, but it came about completely as a reactionary move to the Apple App Store and the Android Market which was only in the works. When Android launched its market in 2008, BlackBerry did not release its app store until almost a year later in April 2009. In recent reports, the Android Market has reported over 130,000 apps, while BlackBerry App World has around 20,000.

Couple BlackBerry’s developmental delay with its lackluster browser and  slow adoption of trendy interfaces, it’s easy to see how Research in Motion has lost market share when compared to application-heavy and hip Apple and Android software. The answer to Research in Motion’s market share woes will be the PlayBook tablet. The PlayBook has a new, sophisticated operating system, competitive hardware specs and has been getting solid reviews from press members who’ve had demonstrations. Most importantly, Bloomberg is reporting that RIM is looking for ways to incorporate Android applications into the PlayBook operating system.

The details of how RIM plans to pull this off are still unknown, but if they can successfully provide users the ability to run Android apps on the PlayBook, it has the potential to be a game-changer for the platform. The effect it could have on RIM’s operating system could make a significant impact on where it currently stands in the mobile market. As RIM continues to rebuild its place in the industry, it only leads to questions about whether the platform will consider expanding such functionality to its handset operating systems as well. If the Android/PlayBook mix is a success, it’s something that, hopefully, BlackBerry users can look forward to somewhere in the near future.

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