RIM PlayBook to run Android apps but fears Oracle lawsuit

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
RIM plans to add support for running existing Android 2.x apps on its upcoming PlayBook tablet to narrow its "app gap," but also fears retribution from Oracle were it to use Android's Dalvik Virtual Machine to do so.



As noted in a report by Bloomberg, RIM hopes to match the capabilities of a new crop of Android 3.0 tablets, which will similarly incorporate backward support for existing Android Market titles.



Unlike Motorola, Toshiba and other Android 3.0 Honeycomb licensees however, RIM is reportedly concerned that using Google's Dalvik virtual machine may expose it to the ongoing patent dispute between Oracle and Google.



Analysts detail the technology required



RBC analyst Mike Abramsky wrote in a note to clients that, "the capability [to run existing Android apps] may be implemented as a 'layer' on top of PlayBook's QNX OS, which would to us suggest emulation. (QNX is already compliant with standards (POSIX) that would allow modified Android apps to run.)"



Abramsky added, "RIM may not have gone with Google's Dalvik VM emulator but may have chosen another solution (home grown or acquired), possibly to avoid legal issues."



Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co and cited by Bloomberg, was similarly credited with observing that RIM's "opting for QNX also put the PlayBook a step closer to Android as they share the common POSIX standard."



How RIM's PlayBook would host existing Android apps, which are programs written in Java and converted into Dalvik Executable (.dex) files, without actually implementing Google's Dvalik virtual machine to do so, is not explained.



It is also not clarified how exactly POSIX compliance in the PlayBook's underlying QNX operating system kernel has anything to do with support for Android apps. Both the BSD-based kernel in Apple's iOS and the Linux kernel used by HP's webOS similarly support POSIX conventions, but this does not mean they will run Android apps, which are not written to POSIX APIs but rather in high level Java and targeted to the very specific design of a specific version of Android's Dvalik virtual machine.



RIM likely more cautious than Google, Android licnesees



Oracle brought legal action against Google for allegedly infringing upon Java-related intellectual property rights that it now owns following its acquisition of Sun. Google maintains that its implementation of Dvalik is different enough to not require the payment of any licensing royalties to Oracle.



RIM may be less confident about the decision of the courts regarding matters of intellectual property infringement following its harrowing experience with patent troll NTP, which accused the BlackBerry maker of infringing its wireless email patents in a case that dragged along through much of the last decade.



NTP was not only awarded millions in damages by the court but also pushed an injunction that would have shut down RIM's US operations if the US government hadn't interceded on behalf of all of its Blackberry users that it said would be severely impacted and argued that national security would be threatened. RIM eventually settled with NTP for $612.5 million in damages.



Developers likely to target the lowest common denominator



The story of RIM's plans to support Android apps in some fashion, while not unanticipated news, was well received by the market. The report cited mobile developer Wade Beavers, who runs DoApps Inc., saying "he would welcome an easier way to sell software to RIM customers. He used to make apps for BlackBerry smartphone users and now focuses on Apple and Android devices."



While the ability to run existing Android apps would help RIM put its PlayBook on a more equal footing with new Android 3.0 Honeycomb products like the Motorola Xoom, it won't also automatically enable the PlayBook to run new Android 3.0 Honeycomb apps that Google hopes to cultivate.



Existing Android 2.x apps are not optimized for tablet use, although Google demonstrated a variety of simple games (including Fruit Ninja) that can scale to fit the larger display of tablets.



Real tablet apps on the level of the iPad require more sophisticated user interface conventions than existing Android apps targeted at smartphone-sized Android devices can deliver, a factor that detracted away from the 5 to 7 inch Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Tab offerings.



While Google included a series of new tablet optimizations in Android 3.0 Honeycomb, PlayBook won't take advantage of them unless it is redesigned from scratch to simply be another Honeycomb tablet, rather than being something unique to RIM.



And at the same time, any potential success of PlayBook can only help limit the potential of Android 3.0 Honeycomb, because developers will be encouraged to target the lowest common denominator of Android 2.x apps to reach the largest possible audience.



In contrast, Apple introduced its iPad with backward compatibility with existing iPhone apps, but also released its own series of iWork productivity apps to kick off a new library of iPad optimized titles. The company also made it easy for existing apps to be delivered in multiple-binary versions that include both a simpler iPhone version and a more involved iPad edition. And as with iPhone before it, iPad offered no attempts to support Flash, Java or other existing platforms.



RIM will also be working to promote its own unique library of tablet apps based on a new, native SDK proprietary to RIM, as well as offering support for Adobe AIR and Flash applets and new web apps built with the forthcoming BlackBerry WebWorks. Support for all of these will be dampened if developers view PlayBook as simply another way to run their existing Android 2.x apps without any effort.



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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,484member
    Sound like RIM is building a "Frankentablet."
  • Reply 2 of 25
    daharderdaharder Posts: 1,580member
    Abramsky added, "RIM may not have gone with Google's Dalvik VM emulator but may have chosen another solution (home grown or acquired), possibly to avoid legal issues."...



    Hmmm? How did that somehow become this: "RIM PlayBook to run Android apps but fears Oracle lawsuit" ?



    Abramsky's just another ANALysist, which hardly equates to RIM actually saying/announcing anything... as the headline of this 'article' would have one (mis)believe.
  • Reply 3 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Abramsky added, "RIM may not have gone with Google's Dalvik VM emulator but may have chosen another solution (home grown or acquired), possibly to avoid legal issues."...



    Hmmm? How did that somehow become this: "RIM PlayBook to run Android apps but fears Oracle lawsuit" ?



    Abramsky's just another ANALysist, which hardly equates to RIM actually saying/announcing anything... as the headline of this 'article' would have one (mis)believe.



    Did you read the actual article, not the Apple-filtered one that this site posted?



    Seems the iFans are a bit afraid.
  • Reply 4 of 25
    If they go that route, nobody will write native apps for them. and the experiences of the Android apps on Playbook will always be subpar.
  • Reply 5 of 25
    sockrolidsockrolid Posts: 2,788member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by barrist View Post


    Did you read the actual article, not the Apple-filtered one that this site posted?



    Seems the iFans are a bit afraid.



    Is RIM paying you? They should be. Call Balsillie and ask him for a Canadian dime.
  • Reply 6 of 25
    Android is fragmented as it already is, I highly doubt Android devs would bother to optimized their apps for the Playbook.. This whole stunt is pointless..
  • Reply 7 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bigwoodenhead View Post


    If they go that route, nobody will write native apps for them. and the experiences of the Android apps on Playbook will always be subpar.



    excellent point.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    Android, particularly games, use a lot of native C. Correct me if I'm wrong, but being POSIX-compliant doesn't imply binary compatibility. Heck, from my experience in trying to port various scientific tools from Linux to Mac such compliance doesn't even imply compilation compatibility. That's not even to mention Google would never enable Android Market on the PlayBook. I think the only hope RIM has is to make as much compilation compatibility as it can to make it easier for devs to port from Android to PlayBook.
  • Reply 9 of 25
    Could someone please give me a reason why I would ever buy this tablet? If I want an iPad, I'll buy an iPad. If I want an Android Tablet, I will buy one. "Bridging app gap" only means that developers will never take RIM's platform seriously or even consider using their dev tools. Aside from that, and as others have mentioned, the world of Android fragmentation is already a giant mess. This thing will be in a bargain bin before any of us have a chance to blink.
  • Reply 10 of 25
    sheffsheff Posts: 1,407member
    Good strategy to bring as many apps at launch as possible, but will result in a bunch of ports, which we all know always suck. RIM is risking differentiation and people saying, if I can run it natively on H-Comb why would I but the PlayBook? I would advice against this, unless they do it as a short term fix and push to break compatibility and force native app development. Without native you will never have quality titles.
  • Reply 11 of 25
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,652member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by barrist View Post


    Did you read the actual article, not the Apple-filtered one that this site posted?



    Seems the iFans are a bit afraid.



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post


    Is RIM paying you? They should be. Call Balsillie and ask him for a Canadian dime.



    No company would waste their money to pay this clown for anything. He's a very recently banned troll who would rather waste his life spewing nonsense than to actually do something constructive.
  • Reply 12 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jd_in_sb View Post


    Sound like RIM is building a "Frankentablet."



    Very funny. Made me smile! Almost rhymes with "fragmentation!"



    Best
  • Reply 13 of 25
    Oops! Duplicate. Sorry.
  • Reply 14 of 25
    RIM seems to be bipolar. They are making a 'business' tablet that isn't the right size for business applications and it seems to be more of a consumer device. They better do something to get apps for this thing fast or it is DOA!
  • Reply 15 of 25
    While the Playbook looks somewhat interesting, most people that I talk to are losing (or have lost) interest. That is not good for RIM. Not good at all. Have they even announced a for sure ship date?
  • Reply 16 of 25
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mbarriault View Post


    Android, particularly games, use a lot of native C. Correct me if I'm wrong, but being POSIX-compliant doesn't imply binary compatibility. Heck, from my experience in trying to port various scientific tools from Linux to Mac such compliance doesn't even imply compilation compatibility. That's not even to mention Google would never enable Android Market on the PlayBook. I think the only hope RIM has is to make as much compilation compatibility as it can to make it easier for devs to port from Android to PlayBook.



    POSIX does indeed not imply binary compatibility in any way, it's just a list of development API's and standardized shell and userland specifications to make it easier to write programs or scripts that will compile and run on operating systems that conform to it. I didn't really get the reference to POSIX in the article either, it's pretty much irrelevant for porting or emulating programs running in a JVM environment like Android.



    Android program's don't use a lot of native C by the way, and not too many Android games do either, because the SDK is all Java. To use native code in Android applications requires coding to an NDK (native development kit) which will result in code that will only run on hardware supported by said NDK. It's not a very popular development model because it is kind of messy and limits target compatibility. Which explains why there's so few high-quality games on Android and why you'll probably never see Unreal or Rage engine games running on generic Android hardware, because you really need native code that is highly tuned and makes the most of the CPU and GPU for that. Right now, iOS is more or less the only viable mobile platform for this because iOS apps are always compiled to native code and have full access to more or less standardized hardware. The PSP NG will probably be the first Android-based platform that might get attention from serious game developers.



    I agree that this whole Android-on-Playbook thing sounds a little desperate, and will likely end up to be a nightmare for developers, for users and for RIM itself. For developers because they will have yet another 'strange platform' that runs their application and might not be 100% compatible or have bad performance, for users because they will not get the best possible experience their device is capable of, and for RIM because developers will just stick with writing Android apps instead of Playbook-specific apps, effectively sorting the exact opposite effect that RIM intended.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    tjwtjw Posts: 216member
    Can someone please explain why this on appleinsider? Oh yes just noticed it was written by that poorest excuse for a tech journalist DED.Move on from this sensationalist crap people, nothing to see here
  • Reply 18 of 25
    alfiejralfiejr Posts: 1,524member
    RIM can't face the truth it is a one trick pony. BB's enterprise messaging was a really good trick. but it is the only one RIM has been able to come up with. trying to match the multiple capabilities of OS X-based iOS, and even Google's Java Android platform, with QNX is simply beyond the range of its organizational competency. so it is flailing ...



    RIM should have bought Palm. together they would have had a chance, combining their strengths. now if HP focuses on enterprise with its new WebOS line (and the phones are keyboard oriented) - and HP has a big time enterprise operation - they will wipe RIM out. Since Apple and Android are already taking away its consumer business, it will have nothing left.



    RIM will wind up just like Palm did. i give it three years before a forced sale of whatever is left.
  • Reply 19 of 25
    archosarchos Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaHarder View Post


    Abramsky added, "RIM may not have gone with Google's Dalvik VM emulator but may have chosen another solution (home grown or acquired), possibly to avoid legal issues."...



    Hmmm? How did that somehow become this: "RIM PlayBook to run Android apps but fears Oracle lawsuit" ?



    Abramsky's just another ANALysist, which hardly equates to RIM actually saying/announcing anything... as the headline of this 'article' would have one (mis)believe.



    Did you read the whole note? Well then you're ignorant and need to before you start shooting your mouth off about what was or was not the expressed context of that phrasing.



    PS: I read the note and there's no leap to conclusions by AI. It's also clearly obvious to anyone who isn't a blind, emotional fandroid.
  • Reply 20 of 25
    archosarchos Posts: 152member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tjw View Post


    Can someone please explain why this on appleinsider?



    Well hmm, maybe because the PlayBook and Android 3.0 tablets compete against the iPad?



    A better question is why you're sitting on AI reading an article you say you don't want to read, and announcing your ignorance about why an Apple competitor's offering would be newsworthy.



    The fact that you attack DED for having written it, but can't point out anything that's factually wrong or misstated or presented out of context makes it pretty clear that you're just attacking him because you don't like the facts he's presenting, because he's right and you're wrong.
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