BlackBerry maker RIM has just announced that they'll be providing a way for developers to package, sign, and distribute Android apps for the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook. (They'll also be able to develop BlackBerry Java and, soon, C/C++ apps). iPad has a huge head start, but this could prove an interesting way to mitigate that lead:
"The BlackBerry PlayBook is an amazing tablet. The power that we have embedded creates one of the most compelling app experiences available in a mobile computing device today," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion. "The upcoming addition of BlackBerry Java and Android apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook on BlackBerry App World will provide our users with an even greater choice of apps and will also showcase the versatility of the platform."
Support will be provided for Android 2.3 apps, so more Galaxy Tab 7-inch style big phone apps than Android 3.0 Honeycomb-style tablet apps on something like the Xoom, but it does immediately skyrocket the potential number of apps available for the PlayBook.
"Potential" because that devs have to choose on a individual basis to submit their apps to BlackBerry App world. It doesn't look like PlayBook is getting the Android Market (or Amazon Appstore), or that all Android 2.3 apps can just be sideloaded and run on the PlayBook. I'm guessing if the process is easy -- there will be some porting involved and the apps will run in a "player" on the PlayBook -- and the money there, however, a lot of devs will jump on the extra customer pool.
So does this change anything on the competitive landscape? Could it make PlayBook one of the strongest Android tablet alternatives in addition to its BlackBerry foundation? Could it pose even more of a threat to Apple's iPad 2? Or do too many development choices harm the overall experience?