The Blackberry Playbook 7-inch tablet device launched a few months ago but has struggled to find an audience since. Research in Motion has only shipped a few hundred thousand units of the Playbook since its launch, well below expectations.
Now, RIM has officially announced that a new version of its Playbook developer operating system will allow Android app developers to quickly port their creations to work on the Playbook's OS.
The announcement said that RIM's Developer Beta of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 will include the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps and the BlackBerry Plug-In for Android Development Tools. The latter also includes the BlackBerry PlayBook Simulator. This tool can be used by Android app creators to test their programs before submitting them to Blackberry's app store. Developers can also use the web based BlackBerry Packager for Android Apps to test their apps to see if they will work on the PlayBook. It can also be used to repackage apps without any need to download any developers tools.
RIM clearly knows that if the Playbook is to have a chance of being successful it needs developers to create apps that will run on the tablet. Extending the Playbook to run the many Android apps is a step in the right direction. However it may be a case of too little, too late for RIM, especially since Amazon is offering its own 7-inch Android tablet, the Kindle Fire, on sale for $199 while the cheapest version of the Playbook is still priced at $299, even with a recent $200 price cut.