Well, so much for that. Just a couple of months after formally introducing the capability to use Android apps on their BlackBerry Plabook tablet, Research In Motion has announced plans to disable the updated OS’ capability to install Android apps outside of the BlackBerry App World. AllThingsD reports that the OS 2.1 update will disable the side-loading feature, though RIM is working on a solution for developers to get their apps on tablets. Their reasoning? That good old standby justification for crippling hardware and software: piracy.
“Piracy is a huge problem for Android devs,” said RIM Vice President of Developer Relations via Twitter, “and we don’t want to duplicate the chaotic cesspool of Android Market.” Harsh words, but strangely so coming from a company whose share in the smartphone market is inching towards single digits and whose only tablet product has been, without exaggeration, a flop. RIM was literally giving away free Playbooks to Android developers who promised to port their apps to the tablet (minus any mention of “Android”, of course) just two months ago, and now they seem hesitant to let former Android users explore the full potential of the device.
The 2.1 version of the PlayBook OS doesn’t currently have a set release date, so RIM’s got a chance to reverse their decision if they get a sudden attack of customer empathy. Ported apps will still be available on the BlackBerry App World. We know there’s a lot of developers that read Android Community. A show of hands, then: who’s upset about Android piracy… so upset that they’d like all Android phones and tablets, everywhere, to lose the ability to side-load apps? We await your thoughts in the comments section.