Photo: Dan Frommer, Business Insider
Research In Motion officially announced today that its forthcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet would support Android apps.(Update: We just published an explainer of what this really means. Click here to see more.)
When asked why anyone would ever bother developing for RIM’s own platform again if they could just make Android apps that would also work on RIM devices, co-CEO Jim Balsillie didn’t make it sound like his heart was all-in on Android.
He basically said that the Android support is there to check off the “tonnage of apps” box — so that RIM can say that tens of thousands of Android apps are compatible with their devices, for people who get excited about those things.
Meanwhile, he said that anyone interested in high performance apps, gaming, etc., will want to make custom PlayBook apps via the new QNX software developers kit.
Here’s a lightly edited transcript of Balsillie’s remarks:
First of all, what we announced is Gingerbread. This is not Honeycomb. I don’t know what the number of Honeycomb apps is, but it’s not very many. Whereas Gingerbread they’ve got lots of them. You’ve got the volume of the handset apps, so if you’re looking for the tonnage of apps, or some kind of long tail stuff, you’ve got it.
At the end of the day, people are going to want performance. You’re just not going to get things like gaming and multimedia, you’re not going to get the speed going through a VM interface. If you want content, or Flash type stuff, or you’re looking at AIR-type, evolving web-type assets, that’s what you’re going to do.
There’s no compromise here. You’ve got the tonnage of apps. And you’ve got the performance. Do I think the tonnage is overplayed? Yes.
But if you think it’s about having a couple hundred thousand apps, there you go.
Do we believe it’s about super high performance? Yes. Do we believe it’s about full web fidelity? Yes. These are concepts that were really relegated as not technically possible, which we’re doing here. This is a no compromise environment.
If you want to work on Android, great. Do we think people will want to migrate web assets? Yes. Do we think they’re going to want super high performance native assets with the SDK? Absolutely. You think they’re going to want to use their Flash based stuff for an offline Flash/AIR type environment? Yes.
I’m just not interested in these sort of religious application tonnage issues. I really think we put that issue to bed. And if you think the whole world’s going to want to develop for Gingerbread, fine. Do I think that’s going to happen? Then why is there a different environment for a tablet? And you know about the performance issues and you know about the app volume issues, cause it’s tough. And that’s why QNX matters.
That’s why people are saying, Is this stuff going to go more in the browser and HTML 5 and more native? These are going to be strong trends. But if you want these app players for different VMs — and don’t forget we have 25,000 BlackBerry 6 apps. So, at the end of the day, we believe this is going to be about performance. It’s going to be about enterprise greatness. Things like multi-threaded capability, symmetric multiprocessing. We believe it’s about an uncompromised web. We believe it’s about enterprise security. True multitasking, not with suspension — and that matters because you’re going to want to run these things in the background.
But I’m out of the religious war on tonnage, which I’m delighted.
… (Lots of repetition.)
I think it’s very important to understand that this idea of “no compromise” matters. And this idea that you can pick whichever one you want.
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