Rumor: RIM Bringing Android Apps to QNX

BlackBerry could be buckling under the pressure and adding support for Android apps on its line of BlackBerry smart phones, as well as on the upcoming PlayBook tablet.

Boy Genius Report reported on RIM's apps plans today, citing "multiple trusted sources."

RIM's co-CEOs have discussed moving the PlayBook's QNX OS to "super phones" and other tablets this year as dual-core devices become the norm, but it has also struggled with how to make the Java-based RIM App World work on these devices. BGR says that RIM is exploring using the Java-based Dalvik virtual machine (VM) to support legacy and custom apps on future devices. This is the same VM Android uses, hence the reason Android apps will be able to be run on any QNX device. (See OS Watch: Device Makers Sound Off and CES 2011: OS Watch Goes Gadgets.)

RIM could license the open-source VM either way, but it could also potentially strike a deal with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) to certify its devices so native apps like Gmail and Google Maps would be supported on QNX-based products, BGR says.

Why this matters
RIM execs have repeatedly danced around the notion that it should support Android and potentially other operating systems like Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s iOS, but it is a move Light Reading Mobile has predicted in the past. (See Should RIM Support Apple & Android?)

The company has been taking its OS transformation seriously, though, first acquiring QNX Software Systems and deciding to make that the dominant OS in the future, as well as snapping up The Astonishing Tribe to revamp its user interface. Adding Android apps would be its boldest move yet, but could also be its smartest. (See RIM Buys Up App Partner and RIM Buys QNX.)

For more
RIM has been struggling to keep up in the operating system battle against Android and iOS for a while now.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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