RIM Reveals Android App Player for Blackberry Playbook, Blackberry Bold

Ascentive Business News

In Orlando this week at Blackberry World 2011, Research in Motion Ltd. revealed the latest software addition to their BlackBerry Playbook: The Android App Player. As the name suggests, the app will allow a user to load Android apps and run them on their own Blackberry Playbook, a professional grade computer tablet.

Each Android app will run in its own virtual machine, but will also seamlessly integrate into the Blackberry ecosystem. Although the Blackberry Playbook doesn’t have access to the Android Market, all compatible Android apps will be available through Research in Motion’s Blackberry App World.

The new player may prove to be quite a challenge for developers, unfortunately,  as they will now have to submit their apps not only to Google for the Android Market, but also to RIM to be accepted into Blackberry App World.

Since the Blackberry Playbook is buttonless, the Android app player will be using onscreen gestures to mimic the functionality that is currently available via hardware buttons on Android devices.

Research In Motion Ltd. also showed off a new version of one of its high-end BlackBerrys, the BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 smartphones, powered by the new BlackBerry 7 OS, updating them with a touch screen and fresh software. T-Mobile USA said that it would carry the BlackBerry Bold 9900 later this year.

Research in Motion is under pressure to update its high-end phones as it’s losing out to iPhones and phones running Google Inc.’s Android software. Last week, the company cut its earnings and sales forecasts for the current quarter, revealing that it is selling fewer and cheaper phones than originally expected. Its stock plummeted. The fall continued Monday, with the shares losing 55 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.10.

Like the original Bold, launched in 2008, the 9900 also has a keyboard under a 2.8-inch-screen in landscape orientation. It’s thinner than before, at just 10.5 millimeters, making it the thinnest BlackBerry yet. RIM also claims that the new software BlackBerry 7 OS provides an easier and faster user experience, with an updated Web browser.

The new phone will come in two versions: one for the type of network used by T-Mobile USA and AT&T, and the other for the type used by Sprint Nextel Corp. and Verizon Wireless. T-Mobile USA is the only carrier to announce that it will carry the phone, so far.

In addition to the app player and the new Bold line, Research in Motion also gave keynote attendees a sneak peek of the upcoming Native email and PIM (Personal Information Management) for the PlayBook. These PIM applications (including Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, MemoPad and Email) will come to BlackBerry PlayBook tablets via an update to the BlackBerry Tablet OS later this summer.

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