RIM to add Android app compatibility to QNX PlayBook tablet?

December 7, 2010, 4:48 PM UTC

The move would instantly allow the PlayBook to have access to Android’s library of 100,000+ apps.

PlayBook via RIM

Gleacher & Company analyst Mark McKechnie, in a note to clients today said that RIM (RIMM) may be building into its QNX-powered PlayBook tablet the ability to run Google’s (GOOG) Android Apps.

Our checks suggest RIMM is planning to offer Android apps compatibility which would be a HUGE win IF it worked properly. We are skeptical, however, as even if the API’s are made similar or a porting program is made available, an Android application on top of a non-native QNX platform would face compatibility issues and ultimately run less efficient. We do think GOOG would be supportive, however, as more platforms running its applications would drive the ecosystem.

I am, for the record, skeptical of this information for a number of reasons, but let’s say it is true…

Google does generate some revenue from the sale of applications but long term is probably looking more to advertising inside of apps as a revenue source.

As McKechnie states, running applications in an emulation mode could cause issues with compatibility and performance.  Palm (GOOG) was successfully able to build a PalmOS emulator into WebOS so it isn’t impossible.

McKechnie, who has historically been a Blackberry bull, downgraded RIMM to NEUTRAL from BUY and states, “we expect RIMM to lose share in the high-growth smart phone market as AAPL and Android expand carriers and product breadth.”In related news today, RIM announced it would start accepting PlayBook apps into the app market.

“Interest and momentum behind the BlackBerry PlayBook continues to build and we are thrilled with the positive response from both the developer community and our customers. With its groundbreaking performance and robust support for industry standard development tools, the BlackBerry PlayBook provides an exceptional platform that appeals to a wide range of mobile app developers, including Adobe® AIR® and Flash® developers, HTML web developers, corporate developers and application hobbyists,” said Tyler Lessard, VP Global Alliances & Developer Relations at Research In Motion. “We are very pleased to be working with developers in advance of the product launch and the opening of BlackBerry App World to accept BlackBerry PlayBook apps is an important next step.”

RIM probably wouldn’t want prospective native developers to know that the PlayBook could run Android apps (if true), lest they decide to skip development on the new platform.