BlackBerry PlayBook won’t run all Android apps

Android App Player

Research in Motion is taking two major steps to try to drum up some more interest in the company’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The first is a series of price cut promotions allowing customers to snag the tablet for as little as $299. The second is a major software update that, among other things, will let users run Google Android apps on the tablet.

The PlayBook ships with BlackBerry Tablet OS, an operating system based on QNX. Since it’s a pretty new operating system, there aren’t that many third party apps available for it — BlackBerry Tablet OS can’t run normal BlackBerry apps and only a small number of apps in the BlackBerry App World store are designed to run on the tablet.

So opening the door to Android apps could make the tablet a much more useful device. There are hundreds of thousands of applications designed to run on Android phones and tablets, and once the Android App Player is available for the PlayBook, many of them will also work on RIM’s tablet.

But not all of them. It should come as no surprise that some apps — such as those that only work as home screen widgets, won’t run on the PlayBook. That’s because the PlayBook doesn’t use home screen widgets. There would be nothing for those apps to do. THe same goes for Android Live Wallpaper apps.

The folks at Thinq have some more details though. RIM engineers apparently outlined some of the limitations at a recent event in Europe, and it looks like the PlayBook also won’t support apps that:

  • Use SIP and SIP VoIP
  • Are built with the Native Development Kit
  • Use Google’s in-app billing service
  • Rely on Android’s text-to-speech service
  • Tie into Google Maps

You may still be able to install some of these apps on a PlayBook, but they won’t run properly because the PlayBook doesn’t have all of the features you’d find in a true Android tablet. It won’t have Google Maps, Google’s in-app billing, or other functions, for instance.

All in all, there’s nothing particularly surprising about this news… but it’s good to see RIM talking about which apps won’t be supported in advance of the BlackBerry Tablet OS 2.0 software update so that we can temper our expectations.

via SlashGear

  • Bob

    I think the Playbook’s appeal, what little it has, has just taken a big hit with the Amazon KF intro. $200 vs $300. Few content vs plentiful content. It’s a tough road for RIM to hoe.

    We may just see another $99 fire sale coming. I honestly don’t see any other way for RIM to get people’s interest.

    • Anonymous

      Mind though the Amazon KF lacks cameras, memory card expansion, and relies heavily on its cloud services.

      So those wanting more flexibility and less reliance on the cloud may still prefer the more traditional tablet.  Though keep in mind some of those Amazon services are already available on other devices.

      RIM is in trouble though and may have to start selling at a loss to get their business back up.  Though any such extreme cuts will likely be only temporary.  Since RIM doesn’t have alternate revenue sources to make up the loss.

      • Bob

        For the mainstream consumer, content is what matters, and the KF has it, while the Playbook doesn’t. And since we’re talking consumer, price is king.

        The lack of cam isn’t a big deal. Skyping is not a major use of tablets. The B&N NookC doesn’t have cams either, which didn’t stop it from being the best-selling Android tab.

        Of course RIM has alternative revenue sources to weather any price drop. The reason they won’t is because of the hit to the brand. Once you lower the price, it’s really hard to raise it back up. But that said, in this commoditized market, price is the only lever they have left. Not dropping the price further would be penny-wise-pound-foolish, as that would mean the failure of this entire generation of RIM tablets, and the possible failure for the entire company.

        It’s a chicken-or-egg game, they need to seed the market with enough QNX devices to get devs to jump.

      • Anonymous

        RIM doesn’t have the kind of alternate revenue that Amazon and Google have access to.  So it would be incorrect to state they could weather any price drop.  They’re having enough problems as it is now.

        While the Amazon Kindle also lacks HDMI out, has no bluetooth, No G-Sensor, No card reader, and no full size USB.  You’ll at best need a OTG USB adapter to get host mode working.  So range of uses is pretty limited and that can prevent the KF from appealing to as many people as it otherwise would have.

        While even the Nook Color has Bluetooth and memory card expansion option and much of the popularity came from being able to easily root it.

        What RIM may be able to do is make the present sale price permanent and then offer rebates to help boost sales.  Otherwise they might as well give up and have a fire sale like HP did.

      • Bob

        I think you’re overstating the KF’s lack of amenities. It’s well suited for the content suite Amazon has lined up for it, which is superior to every other non-Apple tablet. And at the $199 price, I doubt consumers will hold its spartan features against it.

        What matters is that the KF will serve to pull down pricing for every other 7″ tablet. Sure, one can justify paying for $300 for a fuller specc’ed 7″ tab, but it’s harder, now with $200 as the new baseline.

        BTW, except for the SD slot, the NC had none of the features you mentioned either. BT only came out with the mods. It may well be the same for the KF. While I’ve no personal interest in it, I recognize that the content play is a strong card, and Amazon’s is the strongest.

        RIM’s problems are structural, and the Playbook is only a symptom. Whatever fixes it need will go beyond a simple price drop. $300 will likely be the median price for 7″ Android tablets, and given equiv pricing, Android tabs have superior functionality and support. The Playbook still isn’t competitive at the present price, permanent or no. Even at $200, it still would be a tough sell vs the KF, as content usually wins over specs.

        I don’t see RIM hanging it up like HP did, because mobile is their bread-and-butter, unlike HP. But I don’t see an alternative other than a Touchpad-like fire sale. I think RIM is ripe as an acquisition target.

      • Anonymous

        Lack of amenities are lack of amenities.  Like stated the KF will rely heavily on the Amazon services and will lack the ability to use accessories or even output video.

        While Bluetooth has to be already there to enable, the KF simply doesn’t have it.  The mod will have to be physical, add the cost for parts, and the unit is not exactly easy to pry open.

        The overall concept is not too different from Google’s Chromebooks.  A affordable platform to access the cloud services and content.  However, even though Amazon services will be a good selling point, the lack of amenities limits the full benefits of those services.

        Like the lack of HDMI means you won’t be taking full use of the video streaming services that connecting the tablet to a TV or even monitor would have allowed.  7″ IPS screen is good but it’s still just 7″ and not as easy to share with friends and family.  Among other limitations.

        So more a ultra Kindle than anything else.  I’m not saying it won’t be popular, especially at that price point, but the lack of amenities will make it less of a threat to the other tablets.

        Remember also that many of the Amazon services are not limited to being used on just the Kindle Fire.  So only the exclusive content and services will be the real selling points.  While other tablets can offer access to most services and offer more amenities to justify the price difference.

        While RIM’s problems are more than structural.  They’re losing market share and the latest Blackberry phones are at best only playing catchup with other Smart Phone performance and features.  Even the MS Windows Phones are getting ready to over take them in the market.

        The Playbook costs them about $273 to make the base model.  $300 is already severely limiting their profit margin.  While at $200 they would be selling at a loss that can never be made permanent.

        So at best a temporary steep sale, otherwise a fire sale and likely as you put it a ripe target for acquisition.

    • Bmoffatt22

      kindle’s cloud works just fine on the blackberry playbook plus i can that and several other things at the same time.  apps that matter are the top 100 or so but internet is the most used and the playbook is spectacular at it.  the fire looks good for what it does but i do not like the offline content storage that makes the browsing faster… another way to get more consumer info to market to us even more