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The BlackBerry tablet, coming in April, arms itself with Android applications to take on the iPad
BlackBerry’s PlayBook just doubled its coolness and gave itself a little more fighting power against the market’s resident goliath, the Apple iPad 2.
RIM announced Thursday that the upcoming tablet computer will natively support new and existing apps originally developed for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), the latest version of Google’s mobile platform, as well as BlackBerry Java apps.
It’s an incredible expansion of potential for the PlayBook’s app ecosystem.
With two optional “app players,” PlayBook owners will be able to download and run any BlackBerry Java or Android v2.3 apps from App World, the BlackBerry app store. All developers need to do to port their apps to the PlayBook is repackage and resubmit their apps to App World.
If you don’t mind its slightly smaller 7-inch display, the PlayBook’s specifications match most other tablet competitors on the market, including Apple’s iPad. In spite of that, RIM’s tablet will need all the help it can get in a mobile environment that appears to increasingly favor devices with the most and highest-quality apps. By opening itself up to Android, RIM could attract a lot more developers and consumers to its mobile offerings.
RIM also announced its financial results today. Earnings for the fourth-fiscal quarter jumped 32 percent thanks to solid sales of the BlackBerry smartphones, but the company predicts rough weather ahead due to extra spending on the PlayBook’s development and impending launch.
Introducing the iPhone a few years back, Apple took a risk by encroaching on a market traditionally dominated by RIM’s BlackBerry. This time, it’s RIM risking revenue by challenging the iPad’s clear control of the tablet computer space. It will be a decisive year for the mobile company.
When the PlayBook arrives on April 19, it will be available at over 20,000 retailers in the U.S. and Canada, including Best Buy and brick-and-mortar shops for wireless carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. The tablet can already be preordered through Best Buy.
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