RIM has announced that its forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will provide users with access to over 200,000 Android apps.
Reports suggesting that RIM would support the Google platform surfaced in February, and the manufacturer has now officially confirmed the deal.
Users will be able to download 'app player' add-ons, which will allow them to download BlackBerry Java and Android apps via the native App World store.
The BlackBerry Playbook is due to go on sale in the US on 19 April, but RIM will would only confirm to V3.co.uk that the app players will be available "in the summer". This means that they could be available in time for the UK launch, for which a date has yet to be set.
RIM's announcement was deemed a smart move by analysts, and is likely to increase the popularity of the tablet.
App support is one of the key features people look for when they decide to purchase a device, Ovum analyst Nick Dillon told V3.co.uk.
"RIM has accepted that it doesn't have the first-choice platform when it comes to delivering applications, so it has been pragmatic and gone with a strong platform," he said.
"BlackBerry App World has had moderate success on par with Nokia's Ovi store as RIM has not managed to attract as much developer interest as the Apple and Android platforms."
Nick McQuire, EMEA research director for enterprise mobility at IDC, agreed that this is a very good move for RIM.
"More users will be attracted to the PlayBook because of a massive back catalogue of apps on offer," he said.
"Enterprise adoption of the PlayBook is also likely to increase as Android is popular amongst users, and the strategy of IT departments is driven by employee needs."
Both analysts noted that the security of the PlayBook is unlikely to be compromised, despite the malware issues that have arisen in the Android Market.
RIM will deliver the apps through its App World marketplace and will vet applications more throughly than Google, both analysts explained.
Dillon and McQuire also agreed that RIM will continue to push developers towards its QNX platform to develop high-end applications for the PlayBook.
This is in line with RIM's announcement that it will release a beta version of its BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Development Kit (NDK) in the summer.
The BlackBerry Tablet OS NDK will allow developers to build high-performance, multi-threaded, native C/C++ applications. Developers will be able to create 2D and 3D apps using the OpenGL ES 2.0 platform, RIM noted.
However, providing incentives to developers will remain a challenge, the analysts added.
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