Got a BlackBerry Playbook? If the ales figures are anything to go by, probably not - but hey, maybe you've got a friend or a boss who was brought low by a Staples salesman. If that's the case, be sure and tell him or her that the handful of apps huddling together for warmth in RIM's app store will soon have some welcome company. The company's Developer Relations team posted today that the long, long-awaited OS 2.0 update will hit in February, with the BlackBerry Runtime for Android included in the package. It's almost as welcome as a real email client. The service has been in closed beta for some time now.
The deadline for submitting apps to RIM to be included in the launch database is February 6th, meaning that the update and app repository should be available shortly thereafter. It isn't as easy as dropping an SDK onto the Playbook's flash storage; a little work on the developer side of things is required. But compared to building an app from scratch it's a breeze, thanks to tools provided by RIM itself to ease the porting process. In order to be considered by RIM, developers will need to remove all usage of the word "Android" from the app, refrain from referring to the Market, setting the requirement to "BlackBerry Playbook" (hah!) and signing the package digitally.
All this work to get Android apps on the PlayBook is fascinating, considering how much RIM is trying to distance themselves from everyone's favorite green robot. Just last week their shiny new CEO (career expectancy: 8 months) said that they had no intention of releasing hardware that runs Android, claiming that "all Android phones are the same". Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much.