Could RIM Challenge the iPad By Embracing Multiple App Ecosystems?

by Sam Dean - Mar. 25, 2011Comments (1)

Research in Motion, maker of the mighty BlackBerries, is due to release its PlayBook tablet on April 19, based on the BlackBerry Tablet OS, but now some interesting strategic news has emerged about how the tablet will approach applications. Specifically, as PC World notes, RIM's tablet will allow use of Android applications as well as BlackBerry Java apps. The tablet will make use of two runtime environments in order to play both sides of the street. This answers questions that have been raised about RIM's tablet application strategy, and may point to another possible future for mobile devices: They may end up running multiple operating systems, thereby enabling multiple types of app ecosystems.

In February of last year, we considered whether dual-OS tablets might be able to threaten Apple's iPad by enabling multiple app ecosystems. Of course, with its move, RIM is showing that runtime application environments can pull off the same trick.

The only catch is that developers for its tablet will have to port their apps to run on it, but the underlying concept remains the same as the one we considered. The central idea is that applications make the hardware device, so why let a limited operating system or a limited set of runtime environments limit available apps?

We'll see how RIM's strategy plays out, but it seems a precursor to other possibly promising attempts to leverage many types of applications on devices that marry proprietary and open source environments. For proof of concept, consider the many people who run Linux and either the Mac OS or Windows on a single computer.

There are over 200,000 applications available for Android. Isn't RIM smart not to box itself out of that application ecosystem? It certainly seems so.



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Here is a similar story

Analysts say the main customers of the new device will be businesses, as was the case with the company's BlackBerry smart phone.

The PlayBook will be the first tablet that competes directly with the iPad in terms of price.

The PlayBook has a smaller screen than the iPad -- 7 inches compared with the iPad's 9.7 inches -- but offers support for Adobe Systems Inc.'s Flash software and a higher-resolution camera.

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