Bloomberg reports that 3 credible people (left unidentified because this information is not officially public) have come forward with information that Research In Motion is planning to boost BlackBerry sales by enabling their new QNX software to be compatible with Android Apps.
RIM is refreshing its line of mobile devices using this new QNX software and is looking for ways to appeal to consumers who already switched or were thinking of switching to Android. RIM has been steadily losing market share to mostly Google, but also to Apple. This has been continuing for the past couple years: while in December of 2009 RIM held 41.6% of the smartphone market share and Google 5.2%, reports from this past June reported the shares at 23.4% and 40.1%, respectively. Apple’s market share, on the other hand, stayed almost exactly the same over the same time period.
According to analyst Steven Li, this move would solve many of the issues with RIM’s current system:
“Being able to run Android apps, that’s a big plus: If you get the tonnage of Android apps and the top 50 apps through BlackBerry’s App World, that addresses many of the concerns people have about RIM’s ecosystem.”
RIM has stated that the QNX software on the PlayBook tablet will be able to run Android apps, but it hasn’t said the same for its QNX-based phones. Bloomberg contacted Marisa Conway, spokesperson for RIM, but she declined to comment. Bloomberg’s source stated that this is the case, as the Android app player for the new BlackBerrys is the same as the one for the PlayBook but configured for the smaller screen size and resolution. The source also stated this is planned to be available on the phone’s release.
Analysis: I doubt a large publication like Bloomberg would report something like this unless their sources were very credible. This is a very good idea for RIM, because their line of smartphones is made to appeal to the business world. They’ve been losing out to Android because of Android’s larger App Market which allows for greater productivity, but with the inclusion of this App Player, that may change. RIM still has a good number of better apps for productivity, but the sheer power of Android was enough to sway the business crowd.
This brings up another point though: there’s no guarantee that this will satiate those who have already made the switch to Android and the ability to run Android apps does not necessarily mean direct access to the Android Market, which is one of the things that make Android so popular and successful. All in all, this is a last-ditch effort by RIM, which is already on its last legs. Maybe if they can get Angry Birds on BlackBerry, people will buy them!