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This has been in the rumor mill for a little while now, but today RIM made it official. The BlackBerry PlayBook will be able to run Android apps as well as BlackBerry PlayBook apps and BlackBerry Java apps! This means that BlackBerry PlayBook users will also have access to 25,000 BlackBerry Java apps, as well as more than 200,000 Android apps.
Fellow blogger bgrier just posted a great comparison of the big tablets for this season, the iPad2, the Motorola Xoom, and the BlackBerry PlayBook, and one of his comments brought up a great point. The big reason that the iPad2 is such a powerhouse is because of it's wide selection of apps. But today's announcement just might take a bit of steam out of that justification.
Earlier today, RIM announced that they're going to be launching two optional app players that will provide the ability for users to download both BlackBerry Java apps and Android apps from BlackBerry App World and then run them on their BlackBerry PlayBook. What this means is that BlackBerry PlayBook users will be able to run Android apps such as the popular Angry Birds and run them on their PlayBook. But it also isn't quite that simple. Android and BlackBerry Java developers will still need to repackage, code sign and submit their their apps to App World, so it will ultimately be up to the app developers to decide if they want to take their apps to the PlayBook, but at the same time, the process will be much easier and will allow for a whole new market for developers to tap into. Demos will be provided at BlackBerry World in Orlando, so hopefully we'll be able to bring you all some more in depth coverage then.
RIM also announced several new development tools that were previously introduced, but hadn't yet been made available to app developers. This includes the BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Development Kit which will allow for the development of native C/C++ apps. To us, the end users, this means excellent apps with great graphics, and basically, what BlackBerry users have been waiting a long time for. This will go into beta later this summer, meaning that we should see new apps this fall. This also makes for a much better gaming experience, while providing full access to all of the gestures that are possible for the BlackBerry PlayBook.
So what does this mean? Well, if you can have a little patience, it could mean a great app experience on the BlackBerry PlayBook, and indeed one that rivals that of the iPad. It's great news for BlackBerry users, and a great move for RIM.