Oct 18 AT 2:13 PM Dustin Earley 24 Comments

RIM shows how easy it is to port Android apps to BlackBerry; does anybody really care?

RIM BlackBerry

RIM has been touting upcoming Android app compatibility on the PlayBook for quite some time now. We’ve seen demos and they’ve made announcements, but the process has – for the most part – been shrouded in confusion. Today, RIM cleared some of that confusion up by posting a video detailing just how easy it is to port Android apps to BlackBerry.

To port an Android app over to BlackBerry, all you have to do it download RIM’s BlackBerry Packager for Android, put in your developer information and upload your APK. The BlackBerry Packager then converts your APK to a BAR file if everything is compatible, and you’re good to go. The advantages of a streamlined process like this are certainly there. Developers can write an app once and have it work on multiple platforms right out of the gate. Some of the disadvantages, like an abundance of spam spilling over onto BlackBerry devices, will likely be sorted out once the service starts to take off.

The question of the hour isn’t directly related to spam or how quick the porting process is, though. It comes down to, “Who cares?” RIM is falling fast. They’re in a death spiral, losing market share left and right, and there’s no end in sight. Why should developers spend time porting apps to BlackBerry devices if they’ll barely end up getting used? So they can update and fix bugs for two platforms? I’m no developer, but RIM’s lack of success with the PlayBook might lead me to think my time could be better spent on the actual platform I’m developing for. If Android app compatibility is the best thing RIM and BlackBerry have going on, the company may be in more trouble than anyone knows.

Source: Engadget

Dustin Earley: Tech enthusiast; avid gamer; all around jolly guy.

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  • Cloudream

    RIP. RIM.

  • eddieonofre

    so what is this thing called blackberry that they are talking about?

  • JH

    Why not, if possible, port the full Android OS to a BlackBerry?
    Or better yet, RIM should join the Androids: If you can’t beat them join them :)

    • Dustin Earley

      I’d take a second look at a Bold 9900 running Android.

  • http://droidsamurai.blogspot.com DroidSamurai

    If they saved all the money they’ve spent in the development of the PlayBook OS, and used the money to make an Android tablet, throw in a BlackBerry app, then sell it at a loss initially, with the brand of BlackBerry, they could easily become a major player in the field. If HP taught us anything in the TouchPad fire sales, it’s that people do want to buy a cheap, quality tablet that does not have a name start with an “i”.

    • Walter

      So true. I see a similar thing with Samsung. Jeez, noone wants your ‘S’ apps. We want native Android. Be best at hardware and if you really need a branded skin or some killer software anchor then make something clever, like blackberry has renown for secure corporate mail which it could make the killer reason why you’d get a blackberry android. All these giants have lost touch. Same goes for Nokia. I love the Lumia design. I want an Android one.

  • hinds

    I don’t care, sell your patents to android rim!!!

  • AppleFUD

    I’ll wait for the ICS announcement today to see what Google has in store, but I’m leaning toward the PlayBook for my next tablet–the OS is smooth and polished even though they still have a ways to go with apps.

    In many ways they are doing things right–a fast hardware accelerated OS that’s very secure and stable while being open to open-source software and development options for developers. In other words, think of apple without all the BS and attitude lol

    • thaghost

      Everyone with a playbook is waiting for android apps to be ported over. I suggest you wait as well and see if it goes smoothly.

      • AppleFUD

        The Android App Player is available for the dev build of Playbook OS 2.0. People have been using it for a while. It’s not a big deal. Not all Android apps will work in it. It’s more important that RIM provides tools that make it easy for devs to develop for the new platform and it looks like they are doing a pretty good job of that.

        The bigger question is, what will they do with the OS as a whole–you can change the apps all you like but if the OS sucks then who cares.

  • GeauxLSU

    This could be good for Android users. If a developer plans on creating an app for iOS, Android, and Blackberry, in the past they may develop it for iOS first then move to the others. Now they may develop for Android first, knowing that in a couple of steps they can convert it to BB, and iOS would get it last.

  • Goodbye

    So you’re asking if a developer should care that they can effortlessly deploy their application to a new platform that will likely have tens of millions of users with a relatively untapped app market?

    Does *any* thought go into these blog posts?

    • inviolable

      Or alternatively, asking if any of us care, meaning the people who would potentially be buying Blackberries. If the market numbers are anything to go by, it’s not a huge stretch to say the answer is no. Any thought indeed.

      • AppleFUD

        That’s tantamount to an apple fan site posting, “Android releases ice-cream sandwich, does anybody really care?”

        Not on that site, of course. Their isheep and they can only see one thing. I guess you are saying anyone reading an Android blog is the same way–only Android exists?

        AppWord produced more revenue than Android Market last quarter. . . so, someone must care. Their user base also increased. . .

        Let’s not be isheep here.

    • Gr8Ray

      Considering it will be next to impossible to support the Blackberry users if they have any issues running your Android app on RIM’s emulator, I would say it is going to be less than “effortless” for any developers who jump onto this bandwagon.

      Android devs are already crying about fragmentation just within the Android platform, do you really think they’ll want to add this mess on top of that?

    • Mike D

      As a developer, I think Goodbye makes a great point. This is actually AMAZING. Android users don’t understand that developing for the Android platform is actually a complete waste of time – you make significantly less money than other platforms. Hence, this is an opportunity to make more more money by taking 10 minutes to port an app? (I’ve done it before, and that’s how long it takes usually) Statistically, you make more than four (4) times as much money developing for BlackBerry than you do Android. Come on, it’s a no brainer that this fantastic.

  • inviolable

    Poor RIM. Their story is so similar to Blockbuster Video. At one time, they were the only kids on the block, ruled the entire smartphone market. But once that market and the tech evolved, they sat complacent and didn’t decide to take that plunge until it was too late. It started out with only suits carrying BBs. Then they expanded a little and got the younger crowd into it. Enter iOS and Android. Now it’s almost all back to the suits. Too bad, so sad, yo dad.

  • Richard Yarrell

    Blackbird is USELESS….

    • squiddy20

      WTF is “Blackbird”? Is that your “useless” attempt at an insult? Because if it is, it’s even lamer than “AssT&T”, “Thunderdud”, and other childish names you have created. If you’re going to resort to such immature insults, at least make sure it makes sense. What a joke that a 45+ year old man acts like he’s 6.

      BTW, if Blackberries were so “useless”, why did pretty much the entire US government adopt them as the phone of choice for work? Go back to grade school Dick. Maybe you’ll relearn the meaning of “useless”.

  • Dirge

    If you want to use android apps, get an android device?

  • http://www.android.co.rs/ Danilo

    Well it can’t be that easy to make me interested to port my apps to the nearly dying platform like symbian. I agree they need to switch to Android and made their apps on top of it if they want to survive. Otherwise they will end up like Symbian and be eaten.

  • http://blog.kerul.net kerul

    As an app developer, I’m glad to know that Blackberry is providing some tools to port Android apps to Blackberry Playbook (surely there’s re-coding, but it should be minimal). This is important to make sure the apps widely spread across all the platforms. this is the beauty of open source.

    I’m hoping that there are also tools to port Android apps to iOS, ;)

  • thechad

    silly RIM

  • Graham

    The playbook is a solid piece of kit with great spec and small enough to be carried with ease.
    I agree that Ipad is the market leader but why would I want to pay a grossly inflated price for it.

    The PB deserves some serious attention from consumers, developers and BlackBerry themselves.

    If porting is so simple why does the PB not have an inbuilt repackage and deploy program built in.

    I am still of the opinion that this is very good product and if I have to download and port apk files myself then I will.

    However, more collaboration in between the developers would go a long way. Off the cuff I am thinking about skype – Google play. Etc etc.

    Software developers should not be seen to be encouraging restrictive practices, they are doing themselves no favors whatsoever..

    I know not all developers are guilty of this and they should be commended for doing a great job.

    To the others, get your act together before your customers vote with their feet.