Android Central

Before you get all bent out of shape about us talking about the BlackBerry PlayBook, keep in mind that after the recent update to BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, the PlayBook can now run Android applications. The update brought along an Android App Player which allowed Android apps to be repackaged, and submitted to App World for public downloading. For a while RIM even ran a promotion offering free BlackBerry PlayBook's to Android developers who ported their applications and submitted them to App World.

Owning a BlackBerry PlayBook I know that a few developers did take the opportunity to put their applications in App World, but not nearly as many as one would have expected. The process was really easy from RIM, they made it so your APK file could be easily repackaged into a BAR file which is read on the PlayBook. They weren't asking developers to rewrite their applications, or make huge changes, and still developers didn't jump all over it.

Personally I was left wondering why more big name applications didn't make their way over to the BlackBerry PlayBook. With a rather simple process, a free PlayBook, and an added audience of over one million users, it becomes even more alarming. So, if you are an Android developer we would love to know about your decision. Whether you have already ported, are still considering, or decided against it completely be sure to let us know how you reached your decision.

Source: CrackBerry


Reader comments

Android Developers - Have you considered porting your application to the BlackBerry PlayBook?


>"Personally I was left wondering why more big name applications didn't make their way over to the BlackBerry PlayBook."

I think most are just really skeptical the Playbook (or RIM) will stay around long enough to make any difference to anyone. So many tablets (and phones) have failed, it is easy to understand being conservative.

It would be a huge waste of time. RIM is basically begging people to take free one is buying them, the company is a sinking ship.

So let's think about it from a developer perspective.

Say I wrote an Android app. I have to take 20 minutes to port it to the PlayBook, then submit it to App World (both free processes) then I get a free PlayBook, and now my application is accessible to ANOTHER million + users.

I still don't see where the down side to this is, and why more haven't done it.

I think that the problem here is that the developers do not want to support their app on another platform. Especially one that is buggy. I had a playbook for a while and ported over some free android apps to see what their Android App Player would be like. Sad to say that only a handful of them worked. Needless to say I sold the playbook as the app selection was awful compared to what Android is putting out.

If a developer is not familiar with the PB or the OS, the ease of porting isn't really a huge factor.

The developer now has to field support tickets for a device or OS they are not intimately familiar with. Even though it's an Android environment, it's run on a device not designed specifically for it, and there may be issues.

As well the developer may not be keen on the reviews they may receive on their app which is run in a virtual environment where it may or may not run as optimally as it would on a device using Android as it's native OS. For example, as per early reviews, Dolphin browser runs okay on the PB, but nowhere near as well as it runs on native Android devices. Would the developers wish the poorer reviews tarnish their reputation?

And too, how long before the PB's Android environment becomes obsolete as the rest of the Android world advances to newer versions of it's OS? And even before the PB's version of Android becomes obsolete, is there any guarantee that it will receive bug/security updates?

There's a lot of factors to consider. And unless you're actively developing for that platform in mind, or intimately familiar with it, is it worth the effort in the chances headaches occur?

(1) It is NOT a virtual environment. RIM ported the Dalvik VM to QNX. When you have the source code, it is called a straight port.
(2) Because it is a straight port, there is no performance degradation. Official Android is Dalvik VM on top of a linux kernel. RIM's Android is Dalvik VM on top of a QNX kernel. Where is the performance degradation.
(3) Dolphin didn't run "as well" because Handster repackaged an older version of Dolphin browser HD to the Playbook. And Handster is doing it without the original source code.

Well, if you were a developer you'd know that porting to a new platform like the PlayBook is not a matter of 20 minutes. Not only it will take more (20 isn't even enough to submit to a new store when the app is ready) but when you release an app for a platform you're committing to support this platform.

That means:
* Each release must be tested on that platform, if it doesn't work you need to fix it
* You need to handle support for the platform, which is likely pretty different from regular Android

So the return on investment better be worth it.

No, you don't know business.

Businesses take time and money. Developers don't want to learn to a new platform even if the port was relatively easy. You're forgetting that the Playbook market is SMALL. They've made a ton of them, sure; but, they haven't sold a ton of them. Then, not only will you be using your time that could have been used to focus on fine tuning your app, you'll be wasting it by fixing whatever problems there are on the new platform. With every update, you'll have to repeat this cycle.

Neither you nor the poster you replied to are developers -- yet, you guys think it's so easy. If you think you know business so much, then why don't you try learning how to develop apps and make some money your way?

The market may be smaller NOW, but RIM is also going to put this Android runtime on all future BB10 phones.

That's 60+ million blackberries a year with the same hardware chipset, with 2 screen resolutions (classic blackberry and a slab), and it will be the same Android version for all 60 million blackberries. RIM pretty much said that the slab will come first and it will have the same resolution as the playbook.

From your argument's point of view, RIM will be the best Android platform for you to program. You don't need to support a dozen different screen resolutions, don't need to support multiple Android versions, don't need to support multiple chipsets (tegra 3, qualcomm, omap)...

It's not as simple as just porting it over ant it works. There is a lot of debugging to do. The Playbook, although has been modified to run Android apps, is still a different platform. I don't think a developer wants to waste a lot of valuable time debugging any problems that will arise on the Playbook for those few users when they have to take care of their own code on a larger base which would be on Android. And if the developer has their app on both Android and iOS, well then would you want to take your time away from those larger user base platform to support a much, much smaller user base and also hope that RIM or the Playbook doesn't just cease to exist after putting all that time into it?

You might as well just program for ipad only for the tablet market --- because right now, the Playbook has more tablet apps than the Kindle Fire (and the Kindle Fire is the most popular Android tablet out there).

I think the free playbook is the turnoff. J/K, I found that the way the PB handles Android apps was horrible, butbthen, that was in the OS 2 beta.

I'm not a developer, but porting an app over might require some maintenance, specially if my app gets updated. It's another venue to to keep focus and stay updated. Considering nothing special (hardware) expected on blackberry, I don't see blackberry relevant for too long.
IMO: Hardware (sexiness) + Specs + Apps = Success.
BlackBerry = nothing sexy, oook specs, Apps?

... And whats the problem here???

Well I decided to take advantage of it. I got my email from RIM yesterday asking for shipping, I should have the free Playbook next week.

That said, I had time to play with a Playbook last week and I think the OS is horrible. I will most likely sale my Playbook on craigslist and buy the new ASUS Google tablet this summer.

One more thing, I don't mind having my apps available for Blackberry folks, if I can bring in a couple of more bucks there I will be happy to have done so.

Submitted my app about a month ago, received my playbook today! Fun toy but I can say I'm not a fan of the OS...I prefer Android. And for the life of me, I can't figure out where on the developer portal does it show sales...I can download reports that state installs but that's it...

The developer online tools don't seem very good (coming from Android)

If black berry wants to use android apps then they better make a android phone. No android? No android apps. We own them

Did you have to replace google's license check system with a Rim one? Or does Rim provide an easy way to handle that?

I would ike to see more android apps on the play book only because I know a few people with it and would like more games compatible to play each other with my galaxy tab.

I'm pretty far along in an app. The problem is, if the developer didn't get the free playbook (I did not for example, because I misread the timeline sadly), you either have to buy the playbook, or support blindly.

If you're a big dev with the money to burn, and staff for support, sure. I think a lot of people are waiting to see if RIM's "20 minute port" is the real deal.

Also, BB App Player does not allow ad supported apps. That might be a factor.

I bought a playbook in May last year full price (£380). Biggest waste of money I ever spent. I sideloaded a couple of android apps. Nothing major- words with friends and kindle along with a couple of apps from the app store. Within 24 hours the whole app player had ground to a halt and was either not working at all or force closing everything. It is so unstable. Blackberry are a waste of time

Not all Android apps can easily be ported, apps that use native code (non java) can not be ported.. this means A LOT of games simply can't.

I ported Neoteria ( and a couple of others, it's all very simple so no reason not to do it. I doubt it brings in any money tho ;)

One problem I did notice is that the app portal Handster has ported a lot of android "free" and "lite" apps that they ripped from the Android market and placed on their own appstore, and now illegally placed it on the Blackbery app world content without any permission from developers. This included a couple of Orangepixel's games, and a lot more. Sadly both Handster and Blackberry have not responded to this.

Just check the list, if you wrote a free App for android, their is a chance these guys ported it for you (and ad services like admob are crippled so you aren't seeing any money) -

What Handster did is COMPLETELY LEGAL.

Dolphin browser people submitted their browser to the Handster app store without reading the Handster contract. Handster is a white label app store --- LG's own android app store is a re-batched Handster app store.

That's Handster's WHOLE business model. You the app developer submit your apps to Handster and Handster resells your app to these other app stores --- whether it is the LG app store or the Blackberry app store.

The Dolphin browser people are just too stupid about what they agreed with --- when they submitted their apps to the Handster app store.

What's your point?

The same 3000 apps will also show up in LG's app store --- which is just a re-batched version of Handster app store.

I've ported my app to BB PlayBook but I receive a message after 2 weeks that I cannot use the BB* (or BlackBerry) in app name. I renamed the app and now I still waiting for my app to be approved. Maybe they'll find someother thing and ...

That's why there are not too many developers to embrace this offer. It takes to long to publish an app: you'll have to wait to receive your account, your keys, update your app (to remove all references to Android like text, pics or links)... and wait for an approuval from BB team.

20 minutes my ass...
It took me 3 weeks till now and I do NOT expect they to reply me earlier than 1 - 1,5 weeks. So, in the best case, it takes you about a month to publish an app to BB market...

*On Google Play my app is named Android zzz that's why I try to use BlackBerry zzz or BB zzz. (where zzz is a manager game)

For signing key I've waite a couple of hours, for account creation about one week, setting Eclipse - 5 min, install VMware + PlayBook OS - 10 min.
Creation of bar archive in Eclipse (when all above are done) took less then 1 min.

Somehow just hitting the install button and walk away from your computer and watch sports center for 10 minutes is just too much time for you.

Decided to try porting one of my apps to the Playbook. I got my .bar file created, but have been waiting to get my Developer's account activated so I can publish. Guess they are on backlog on getting these accounts approved.