RIM is offering a free PlayBook tablet to developers who submit an Android application to RIM's App World before Valentine's Day, though the T&Cs have yet to be revealed.
RIM isn't the first company to hand out hardware to promote software development – it's an established route to filling out an application portfolio – but rarely has there been a portfolio so in need of filling out. Luckily RIM has a lot of PlayBooks lying around the place, all of which are about to become Android-compatible, so will be giving them away to anyone who ports an Android app to its tablet.
The new BlackBerry Runtime for Android, which will be distributed later this month with the next version of the PlayBook OS, won't run Android binaries, but RIM provides an Eclipse plug-in which makes porting most a point-and-click affair so there seems little reason not to bother.
But RIM can't afford to take any chances, and so will encourage developers to click in its direction with a free 16GB PlayBook, in the hope of having a decent portfolio of apps in place in time for the launch of the new OS version.
Not that App World is missing anything vital, other than vitality itself. Angry Birds is there, but it will cost you £4.99 compared to the 69 pence you'll pay for the same game on an iPad, and there's the usual array of puzzle and social-networking app. Yet the whole place feels corporate and restrained compared to the plethora of rubbish which makes the iTunes store, and Android Marketplace, so interesting to peruse.
RIM isn't providing the detailed terms and conditions yet, presumably waiting to see how developers respond, but as a straight bribe it seems a reasonable punt - if you have an Android application, or feel like knocking one up, then this is a fine way to get a free tablet for your trouble. ®