When RIM acquired QNX, it was all but certain that the days of Java-powered BlackBerry OSes were drawing to a close. That doesn’t mean RIM plans on ditching support for all those legacy BlackBerry apps developed for use in the enterprise, however. Boy Genius Report has received information that RIM intends to support those apps by way of a virtual machine — and what better Java VM to use than Google’s Dalvik (which drives Android)?
In theory, a Dalvik VM running on a BlackBerry device could be capable of running an Android .APK. However, since most apps are closely tied to OS-specific APIs, there’s also a very good chance that most Android apps wouldn’t do anything noteworthy on future RIM devices. Still, the possibility is an exciting one — and the ability to handle Android apps would definitely make BlackBerry a bit more enticing to both developers and users.
If Dalvik is chosen, then QNX-based devices could run Android apps, in theory. This would offer a huge boost for RIM’s BlackBerry App World. RIM opened the store to apps for its PlayBook, its first QNX-based device, in December. It has a lot of ground to make up on rivals. The addition of Android apps would make the PlayBook a more credible competitor to the likes of Apple’s iPad, or indeed any Android-based tablets which might raise the question of why Google would want to co-operate with RIM. One possible reason is that the PlayBook is an attractive tablet, and potentially could haul in Apple’s lead in the tablet market.
But there are arguments against the credibility of RIM adopting Dalvik too. One is that the app store market is still new enough for the market to change, so independent players such as RIM and Google are not under immediate pressure to join forces. On a technical note, Pocketnow says: “RIM would also have to support the Android application framework; just choosing the Dalvik VM is not enough to provide Android application compatibility.” So perhaps a link-up is not so straightforward.
RIM’s starting point was the need for a Java-based virtual machine to provide legacy support for apps, particularly those its enterprise customers have spent money on building for themselves. Among the options was Dalvik, which is now apparently under consideration by RIM.
Stay tuned for this and other developments on everything related to Android!