In order to revive weakening sales, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) plans to enable new smartphone models available next year to run applications built for Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system.
BlackBerry devices running on RIM’s new QNX software will be Android-compatible, according to inside sources. Research in Motion has yet to announce any such plans for its 2012 product line, though it has said that it plans to release the QNX software early next year, around which it plans to build a range of devices.
Currently there are over 250,000 apps available for Android, about six times the number of apps available in RIM’s App World, one of the main factors in Android’s success, with phones operating the software accounting for 48% of all global smartphone shipments.
While Android increased sales by 379% year-over-year in the second quarter, RIM saw its market share fall from 19% to 12%. New RIM models introduced this month are the first new phones in a year, the main factor in BlackBerry’s declining market share. RIM’s share price has fallen 51% so far this year, even after a 3.89% gain Wednesday on news of its Android-enabled models.
RIM‘s BlackBerry smartphones won’t be the only QNX products capable of running Android apps. RIM will reportedly equip its PlayBook tablet with the same QNX technology. In fact, the Android app player for the new BlackBerrys is the same as that built for the PlayBook, just being adjusted to fit the different screen size and resolution of the smaller smartphones. The Android player will be pre-installed on QNX phones.
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When the Playbook first debuted in mid-April with comparably fewer apps than were available for Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad, it was criticized and never made much of a dent in the market. Its lack of a dedicated e-mail program was also a large factor in the tablet’s failure, and will be remedied in September when RIM issues a PlayBook software upgrade. A PlayBook upgrade for the Android player may follow later this year.