The upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook is a pretty sexy little 7 inch tablet with a fast dual core processor and a slick operating system with excellent support for multitasking. The only problem? A tablet is only as good as the apps it can run, and while there are hundreds of thousands of apps for the competing iOS and Android operating systems, the BlackBerry PlayBook will run a new OS based on QNX. It won’t even be able to handle existing BlackBerry apps.
So while you’ll get an excellent web browser, video player, and a handful of other apps out of the box, Research in Motion is going to have to play catchup in the third party apps department. Now the folks at BGR are reporting that RIM may have an unusual solution: Install a Dalvik virtual machine, allowing the tablet to run Android apps.
The company has already explained it plans to use a Java virtual machine on the tablet to handle legacy apps. A Dalvik VM would be able to do that — and since that’s the same virtual machine used by Android, it could mean the BlackBerry PlayBook would be able to run native Android apps just as easily as Java applets designed to run on older phones.
Of course, it’s unlikely that Google would license the Android Market to RIM for use on the PlayBook, but it’s possible that RIM could open a third party app store that lets you download and install native apps or Android apps. But who knows, maybe Google would be happy to see another machine capable of running Android apps… even if it doesn’t technically run Android.
Right now this is all in the realm of rumor and speculation, but BGR says that “multiple trusted sources” have confirmed the story. That said, all those sources are claiming is that RIM is considering using the Dalvik VM. There’s no indication that a decision has been made.