RIM is planning to put its "app player" engine into the next generation of handsets, providing Android compatibility to its phones as well as tablets.
Bloomberg has been talking to people who asked not to be identified but confirmed that RIM's QNX-based handsets, scheduled for next year, will get the Android compatibility module allowing applications developed for Google's platform to be run on RIM's.
We've still not seen the "app player", but RIM confirmed in March that it would be shipping software for its PlayBook tablet which would enable the tablet to run Android applications. The PlayBook is based on QNX, which RIM bought in April last year, so once the handsets go QNX too, there seems little reason to prevent the "app player" from running.
Even once it has Android compatibility don't expect RIM to embrace the Google Marketplace: Android will simply be another way in which developers can create applications for distribution through RIM's App World.
It has been almost a year since the PlayBook launched and the tablet is still lacking in applications. That is partly because the native SDK only went to public beta on Wednesday this week, allowing developers to use POSIX-compatible C++ and optimised graphics acceleration instead of relying on Abode Flash and its AIR environment.
But these days it's vitally important to have the basics covered: the applications that rapidly become popular and which users long for when their mates have them. RIM will be hoping that Android compatibility will make adding BlackBerry to the list of supported platforms so trivial that developers will do it by default. ®