During a briefing on their involvement with Android on the PlayBook tablet, a RIM exec at DevCon 2011 made a somewhat bold statement: BlackBerry App World would be the first professional market for Android applications. This stemmed from a line of questioning around security – how does RIM propose to stop just about anybody from sideloading Android APKs using their recently-released repackaging tool? Well, RIM can only do so much about people who acquire Android binary files through questionable means, but through their code-signing and rigorous approval process for App World, RIM claims that they’ll be able to protect the rights of app developers better than any other mobile software marketplace out there. The same RIM panel (consisting of Larry MacDonald and Chris Smith) talked about how Android app developers are dissatisfied, and are looking for a third platform to invest in outside of iOS and Android. Moreover, MacDonald, who confirmed that he had not been meeting with Google on the Android App Player project, indicating that all of this is much more of an aggressive campaign to win developers than it is a love-in.
Combine these comments with the myth-busting segment from yesterday’s general session, where RIM’s new head of developer relations took aim at preconceptions about the BlackBerry ecosystem (including the assertion that on a per-developer basis, App World was more profitable than the Android Market), and previous commentary from RIM’s co-CEO who dismissively labeled the move to Android as an appeal to consumer’s need for app “tonnage”, and you’ve got a fairly aggressive stance. They aren’t working with Google, they’re claiming to be more profitable for developers than the Android Market, and yet they’re knee-deep in the platform now. It’s hard not to feel like RIM is resentful of their own new feature. That may have to do with the fact that onlookers are sure to see partial Android adoption as a kind of admission of failure of QNX or BlackBerry 7 to attract developers.
In any case, here’s a video outlining how developers can port their Android apps to the PlayBook. It’s pretty much the same as what they had announced back at BlackBerry World, the only difference being that the tools to test and submit are now available. What do you guys think – is Android piracy bad enough that RIM could very well claim to be a more secure, profitable app market than Google’s or Amazon’s? We won’t really know for sure until PlayBook OS 2.0 actually launches, and who knows when that’ll happen.