RIM had high hopes when they released BlackBerry Playbook a year ago. RIM, at that time, was slowly losing market share to Android. Playbook was the Canadian company’s last shot at redemption but it failed to gain foothold with customers as they initially thought it would. In a second attempt to woo consumers, they updated BlackBerry Playbook OS to 2.0 which allowed users to download and run Android through the BlackBerry App World store.
Today, only two months since the update, RIM says they will strip down PlayBook of this feature in their next update – BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.1.
Alec Saunders, Vice President of developer relations at Research In Motion, answered a user’s questions regarding use of Android apps in the upcoming OS update of BlackBerry Playbook. “We’re removing side loading for consumers,” he responded. He further explains that piracy is a huge problem among Android developers and they don’t want to be the second Android Market which he describes is a “chaotic cesspool.”
Despite RIM’s good intention to fight off piracy, I doubt it’s the only reason why they’re stripping off the feature. Android devs have found ways to fight off piracy on their own, including checking for licenses online. RIM must have an ulterior motive for taking this action, and I believe it’s because they’re intent to preserving their platform. With the company hanging by a thread, this action is a bold and risky move that might just cut their lifeline.
What really confuses me is how this will affect BlackBerry 10. This May, RIM said they were giving away developer tools at the BlackBerry 10 Jam, including an SDK for Android apps. This tool enables Android developers to optimize their app for Blackberry 10. Research In Motion’s latest announcement is contradictory to earlier plans. Although no official announcement has been made, they might do the same thing on their next-generation smartphone OS.