Device operating systems

OS Watch: RIM Embraces Android at Arm's Length

It's official. BlackBerry is now in the Android camp -- sort of. The BlackBerry maker, which also hosts its own ailing app store, announced Thursday it would open up its PlayBook app store to Android applications. (See RIM Brings Android Apps to the PlayBook.)

In announcing its fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, RIM said that the PlayBook, coming out on April 19, would support Android 2.3 and Java apps, albeit not natively -- an app player would let them run in a different run-time environment. There will be no Android Market on the PlayBook either, so the Android apps would be downloadable through BlackBerry App World. (See RIM Reports Q4.)

RIM execs also promised that BlackBerry OS 6.1 would be a "major upgrade" overhauling the current platform.

  • Frag Watch: Is fragmentation a problem for you? Well, "welcome to mobile," says Todd Murphy, Verizon Wireless 's director of the consumer solutions group. Fragmentation is inherent in the industry, he told attendees at an International CTIA WIRELESS 2011 panel. It exists for a lot of reasons, he said, but you have to accept that it's going to be there. For brands, that means being educated about what the fragmentation means, why it exists and how to overcome it. For app stores it means finding efficient ways to get brands into mobile.

    LR Mobile caught up with Murphy at CTIA to get his perspective on how Verizon's own app store, V Cast Apps, fits into the fragmented value chain. Check out the video below for his response:

  • Google Hoards its Honeycomb: Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) is not ready to share its Honeycomb with the world, or at least not with smartphones. The company told Business Week that it wouldn't release its latest open-source OS source code to device makers and developers for the foreseeable future. Google says that Android 3.0, Honeycomb, was designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes. And, it wants to keep it that way until its ready for the smaller screen.

    "While we're excited to offer these new features to Android tablets, we have more work to do before we can deliver them to other device types including phones," Google said in a statement. "Until then, we've decided not to release Honeycomb to open source."

    This isn't Google's typical MO for its open-source software, which it typically releases to device makers early to give them time to prep it for their devices. But it has run into problems in the past when its OS was ported to devices it wasn't suited to, compromising the performance. Restricting Honeycomb to the tablets it was intended for will ensure the quality is up to par, although it doesn't help Android's pledge for openness or with the question of fragmentation.

  • Moto Wants its Own OS: Motorola Mobility LLC has been a staunch supporter of Android, but that could all change. Light Reading's sister company InformationWeek reports that the device maker is building its own Web-based OS and has hired engineers from Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Adobe Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: ADBE) to do the legwork.

    Moto maintains that it is committed to Android, but according to Deutsche Bank AG Analyst Jonathan Goldberg, it's a certainty that its own OS is happening -- eventually. The company, still trying to pull out of its slump post-spin-off, can't rely on one OS. It needs options, just in case, he tells InformationWeek.

  • Apple's iPad Astounds: Apple is on track to ship more than 20 million iPads cumulatively, according to Piper Jaffray & Co. Analyst Gene Munster. Its international iPad 2 launches in 25 countries drew huge crowds and queues in the U.S. continue to form as demand outstrips supply. It's estimated -- conservatively -- that Apple shipped 5.5 million in the March quarter, adding to the 15 million shipped in 2010.

    — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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