RIM says ‘thousands’ of Android PlayBook apps already available

Research In Motion said that “thousands” of Android apps are already in the Android player launched one week ago as part of the PlayBook OS 2.0 update.

The company said that the player could help encourage more native appdevelopment on the PlayBook. There are currently10,000 apps in the BlackBerry App World, including the Android apps,making it smaller than even the fledgling Windows Phone platform, whichhas 65,000 apps in its store.

RIM first announced in March oflast year that it would offer softwareso that PlayBook users could run Android apps.

A lot of developers are looking at adding their apps to the PlayBookAndroid player as an “on ramp” to the PlayBook, said Martyn Mallick,vice president of global alliances and business development for RIM. Itgives them an opportunity to try the platform and see the results inorder to inform their decision whether or not to develop natively forit, he said. He said he was surprised at the number of developers whocontacted him within the first couple of days of launching the Androidplayer to say that their apps had seen more downloads in a few days onthe PlayBook than in the last few months in the Android Market.

Developers have more competition on the Android Market, which has450,000 apps.

Worst apps will disappear
Developers must do some work to move their Android app into the player,including submitting it to RIM for approval. Developers appreciate thatbecause it helps weed out apps that are infringing intellectualproperty, the executives said. One app was submitted to RIM by tendifferent people but none of them actually created it, Mallick said.RIM denied the submissions and reached out to the developer to let himknow about the activity and invite him to submit the app, he said.

Still, some developers are not doing the work to ensure their Androidapp suits the PlayBook, making for a low quality user experience. Toomany such apps will leave the PlayBook app store with a reputation forlow quality apps.

But RIM argues that rather than bring down the overall quality, thoseapps will simply disappear. “They won’t last,” Alec Saunders, vicepresident of developer relations for RIM said. The low-quality apps arealready getting comments from users, alerting other shoppers of thepoor quality.

None of the developers on a panel discussionhosted by RIM aboutdeveloping for the PlayBook were interested in simply developing theirapps for Android in order to reach PlayBook users. “For serious gamedevelopers, the Java framework is not really viable,” said Alex Caccia,president of Marmalade, which offers a product for porting apps amongthe different mobile platforms. His customers are primarily gamedevelopers and Java, the basis for Android development, doesn’t givethem the performance or control they want, he said.

Transition to BlackBerry 10
Other app developers, including those with some of the most popularapps on competitive platforms, seem uncertain about the future of thePlayBook. RIM has been working through a drawn out transition toBlackBerry 10, a new operatingsystem that will run on the PlayBook andBlackBerry phones, and uncertainty around that process may be scaringoff some developers.

“The conversation we’re having with developers is, if they build an appon the PlayBook, it will translate fairly easily to BlackBerry 10,”said Saunders.

Developers are also keen to know how many PlayBooks will sell and theroadmap into the future, before making their decision about moving tothe platform. “Everyone wants to know that,” said Saunders. The companyisn’t publically releasing those details but suggested it may besharing more details with some developers.

Some developers are looking at the PlayBook as a precursor toBlackBerry 10, so that they can get used to developing to the platformand then can “pretty seamlessly” port the PlayBook app to 10 when itcomes out, Mallck said. “A lot of it is a matter of timing,” he said.

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloudcomputing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancyon Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy’s e-mail addressis [email protected]

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