You gotta say that RIM has a knack of raising eyeballs across the globe. Be it the Playbook tablet’s recent re-launch or the controversial decisions that have been characteristic of RIM’s operational style in the past year or so.
The latest salvo from the makers of the Playbook tablet is going to have an impact on those Playbook users who use the Android apps on the Playbook. You would agree that given the paucity of apps on the Playbook platform, the freely available Android apps have so far been able to fill the vacuum in terms of lack of quality apps on the platform.
As an initial step to promote the Playbook tablet, RIM had allowed Android apps to be ported to the Playbook tablet in a couple of ways. The first one was the direct approach in which you would need to download the app from the ‘Blackberry App World’ which is much like the Android Apps marketplace. The second one was an indirect one and called as the ‘sideloading of Android Apps’. This method was more useful for those apps that were not available on the ‘Blackberry App World’ apps marketplace. For users’ benefits, the Playbook allowed direct download of these apps from the developers website and a conversion to make them conform to the Blackberry Apps standards by the users of the app. In this entire process, the developer had no role to play. The developer’s app would be downloaded as a standard app and using the ‘Blackberry App Tools’, these would then get converted to the Playbook format by the normal user.
Going forward, RIM has stated that such a ‘sideloading of apps’ won’t be possible on the future versions of the Playbook tablet operating system. There is no clear reason that could explain RIM’s rationale behind making the ‘sideloading of apps’ available in the earlier versions of the Playbook and then withdrawing it subsequently.
Perhaps, there could be one of the two likely causes behind such a move by the RIM. One could be the plethora of legal lawsuits that RIM could be subjected to by the apps’ developers, if it was found and satisfactorily explained by the developer of the Android app that the ‘converted Android App’ posed significant loss to the developer in terms of business revenue or product nomenclature. The second could be a ploy by the RIM team to force more and more developers to port their Android apps to the ‘Blackberry Apps’ platform and make them available for the Playbook users. Many analysts see a combination of both factors that would have pressured RIM into acting towards making its apps marketplace more robust and friendly to the developers.
Does all this affect the Playbook users? Obviously, it does. The user experience is set to change and unless the apps’ developers embrace the Blackberry platform, there is no way that things could move forward for the Playbook makers. There are going to be lesser number of apps that are now going to be available for a normal user, and that does not mean any sweet business for RIM. And, why would the apps’ developer embrace a platform that does not seem to have the numbers that the iOS and Android markets offer? Let us wait for time to unfold this mystery.