BlackBerry Tablet Pals Up To Android 2.3 As Shares Slide

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RIM announce PlayBook eco system goes Android friendly in a move that could make its tablet release a hit.

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The BlackBerry PlayBook has made some new additions to its OS which will now support BlackBerry Java, Android apps, in addition to HTML5, Flash and AIR support.

It has also added Native C/C++ development support, Canadian based Research In Motion, the makers of BlackBerry said, and will also support game engines Ideaworks Labs (AirPlay) and Unity 3, upping the number of games available on the platform.

 “BlackBerry PlayBook becomes a new market opportunity for all the developers who have already created over 25,000 BlackBerry Java apps and more than 200,000 Android apps,” it said in a release.

However, entering the tablets war is a costly game as RIM has learned.

Its shares tumbled 10 per cent to $57.50 on Nasdaq following its revelation on Thursday that costs associated with development of the PlayBook and platforms would hit earnings for the forthcoming quarter.

Earnings per share guidance was put at $1.47 -$1.55, reflecting  “a mix shift in handset towards lower ASP products and an increased investment in research and development and marketing related to our tablet and platform initiatives,” RIM said.

The PlayBook is set to launch in the U.S. and Canada on April 19, will offer two optional app players to run either BlackBerry Java apps and Android v2.3 apps.

 

The re-jigged system will be demoed at BlackBerry World in Orlando, Florida in May.

“The BlackBerry PlayBook is an amazing tablet.

“The power that we have embedded creates one of the most compelling app experiences available in a mobile computing device today,” Mike Lazaridis, RIM Co-CEO said.

RIM is looking to outrun the iPad 2 and steal its thunder by upping its availability and going head to head on price, analysts Ovum said just last week. 

But now it has gone beyond this and is seeking to facilitate Apple rivals Android on the apps front, meaning it won’t be lacking on the content, which many argued was a possible weakeness. BlackBerry Java’s 25,000 apps pales in comparison with Apple’s several hundred thousand.

Research In Motion will sell its PlayBook tablet in twice as many North American retail outlets as the iPad – and is set to undercut the iPad 2, with a $499 tag compared to $579 for iPad 2 16GB WiFi equivalent.

 However, it’s not all bad news for RIM, who announced shipments of its flagship BlackBerry smartphone grew 43% over 2010 to 52.3 million, making it the number one selling brand in the US, Canada and the UK for calendar year.

Revenue for y/e February 26 2011 grew 33 per cent to US$19.9 bn, while net income almost doubled from last year to $3.4 billion, or $6.34 per share diluted.

 

 

Despite the shares tumble, RIM are far fom worried. “We are laying a strong foundation for RIM’s expanding market opportunity through focused investments and we are extremely excited about our smartphone, tablet and platform roadmaps,” it said.

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