The global app market is booming and how so. The app business is set to touch $15 billion by 2013, according to research2guide, and that means the app ecosystem has become more important than the actual device that the apps run on. We are seeing huge amount of development in exactly this trend with platform developers wooing app developers to make apps for their platform. Android has achieved a phenomenal growth in the number of apps that are available and is set to be the biggest app platform by the end of the year. And since the launch of the iPhone, RIM has been losing market share and most analyst predict that Blackberry smartphones will be confined to an enterprise niche that they traditionally appeal to. The recently launched Playbook launched by RIM received mixed reviews with some tech critics extremely happy with its form factor and well designed operating system, others citing the lack of a basic email app as a severe handicap when competing against other tablets. Well all did not look good for the men from Canada but they refuse to die without a fight! And that’s what we love about them!
Out of this mess of platforms and competition for apps came an ingenious idea that will boost the reputation of the Playbook as much more than just a Blackberry tablet. Yesterday at the ongoing Blackberry World 2011 conference, RIM finally unveiled the much awaited Android player. A smart software that uses Google’s code and integrates it into Playbook’s QNX OS to run Android apps on it.
Yes that’s right, Android apps on the Playbook. RIM will allow developers to repackage their Android apps, sign them and then submit to RIM for approval. Once the app has been approved by RIM, the app will show up in its own app store ( Blackberry App World). The apps will look like native Playbook apps but will run inside the Android player window. The Android player is a derivation of Android’s Dalvik virtual machine used in the Android OS.
That’s a fantastic idea when you look at the economics of it. RIM gets to sell its tablet as its own device, market apps developed natively for its device, markets apps developed for the Android OS. Looking at the number of apps already developed for Android, even if a tenth of the apps get approved by RIM , it will put the number of apps available for playbook at increases dramatically! Taking advantage of the Android app developers juggernaut is a brilliant idea to begin with. The playbook currently has very few apps, something that will discourage users from buying the tablet.
On the down side, if RIM is running Android apps on its Playbook, it will definitely urge developers to concentrate on Android and not native Playbook apps. There is a possibility that Playbook app developers feel left out in the cold and ultimately Playbook becomes an Android tablet that runs on RIM’s OS. After all, a platform is only as good as the apps that run on it.
What is your take?