How Long Can BlackBerry Piggyback on Google?

One of the shortcuts that BlackBerry (NASDAQ: BBRY  ) has been using to grow its app count for years has been ported Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) Android apps. It all started when the company announced that it would support ported Android apps on its PlayBook in 2011.

By embracing Android apps within BlackBerry's platform, the company could make it easier for developers to bring their content over with minimal effort. The new BlackBerry 10 platform currently includes an Android emulator, but the underlying Android version is 2.3 Gingerbread, which was originally released in 2010. That means that even ported Android apps are dated and don't have full access to any of the new features that Google has added in the past few years.

In February, BlackBerry said it would be upgrading its Android runtime to Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, and subsequently decided to go all the way up to the current 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. The company has now released the first software developer kit, or SDK, that includes support for Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean and is encouraging developers to start testing their apps on the platform.

The update will add a slew of new features to the emulator, including things like hardware acceleration, among others. This is the first real tangible step toward getting Jelly Bean apps on BlackBerry 10, and could help boost BlackBerry's app count further, albeit with ported apps.

BlackBerry's Android strategy is a risky bet. Embracing Android too deeply runs the risk of the entire platform becoming little more than a wrapper for Android apps, but the move serves as a stepping stone for developers. They can quickly port their apps to test the waters, and if all goes swimmingly, they can then spend additional time and resources to go native for better performance. The company's BlackBerry World app store is now up to 120,000 total apps, including native and ported titles.

To BlackBerry's credit, the company is making progress with getting more native content. BlackBerry would prefer all apps to be native, but that's not entirely within its control. Only if a sufficient fraction of apps become native could BlackBerry even consider ditching Android support. How long can BlackBerry piggyback on Google?

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Read/Post Comments (14) | Recommend This Article (4)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 12:05 AM, vijitc wrote:

    Damned if you do, Damned if you don't. Blackberry has no choice. People are crying for apps and if you have a small market share, you will not get key apps developed for you platform natively . It is no different in the desktop world and what linux distributions have always faced. Same goes for Mac OSX. It has only been in the past few years where MAC has been getting the love. That is why in the desktop world that parallels was so important to the Mac. Now of course we also have VMware and Virtualbox which allow us to run Windows apps on other platforms. I use Linux and Mac in the office and without virtualbox I would be dead in the water. Blackberry is giving us something even better where we can run binary apps within bb10, much like linux has tried with wine with limited success. It appears that Blackberry is going even beyond the dalvic API for truer binary support of Android apps.

    Blackberry has no choice. They have to do it and in time like Mac on the desktop if they gain more market share more vendors will develop natively for them.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 9:13 AM, CZZZZZZ wrote:

    This is a brilliant strategy supporting Android apps, they will have the best of both worlds,,,,,thousands of Android entertainment apps and thousands of secure BB business apps.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 9:16 AM, etgh wrote:

    If it wasn;t for the media screaming out the lack of apps as the reason BBerry will fail, BBerry wouldn't need to do this.

    How did application "tonnage" get to be the decisive factor in choosing a smartphone ? It's simpe, if you can't compete in a market, change the market.

    Marketing 101....

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 9:34 AM, vespajet wrote:

    BlackBerry had a golden opportunity years ago to keep up with the times, but rested on its' laurels and allowed the competition (which they did not take seriously until it was too late) to pass them by and gut their marketshare in major markets. Now BlackBerry has to fight for the table scraps with Windows Phone as both platforms are trying to solidify the third place position in major markets like the US.

    Part of the problem BlackBerry has had in recent years was having multiple operating systems and some did not work with others. You had the legacy OS5/6 and then you had OS7, which didn't support all OS5/6 apps nor could OS7 apps run on OS/6 devices (and said devices could not be upgraded to OS7). Then there is the PlayBook OS, which was a completely different animal and incompatible with the earlier operating systems. Developers were slow to embrace the PlayBook OS and it really wasn't until the Android player was included with OS2 did things start to improve in terms of apps. There are a lot of people who have sideloaded converted Android apps to run on not only their PlayBooks but now their BB10 device (Some of the most popular apps being sideloaded are Instagram, Netflix, and before it was officially rolled out for BB10, Skype.).

    There are companies that previously had apps for prior BlackBerry operating systems that have stated that they have no plans to develop a BB10 version or their app or have ignored the question. Meanwhile some of these same companies have developed Windows Phone versions of these same apps, which as a BlackBerry user is irksome.

    Another issue is the lack of promotion of BlackBerry devices at the retail level by the cell phone companies. If you were to go into a typical authorized agent for T-Mobile, AT&T or Sprint or went to a big box retailer like Best Buy, those clerks are quite likely to try to sell you the latest Samsung Galaxy or the iPhone over the Z10 or Q10 and some clerks have long resorted to dirty tricks and lies about BlackBerry in order to sway a customer. You go into some retailers and the only dummy units in the cell phone department (besides the sales staff) will be BlackBerry devices. I walked into a Best Buy a few days before the Z10 was released in the US, and you sure as hell wouldn't have known a new BlackBerry device (and a new OS) was about to be released, as there were no signs in the store about it. Meanwhile, the store had multiple signs for the iPhone and the latest Samsung devices. BlackBerry has a tough road ahead in the US if the retail channels continue to put up roadblocks. When I bought my Z10 several weeks ago, I ordered it directly from T-Mobile's online shop as I didn't want to have to deal with sales staffs at a retail outlet trying to sway me to a phone I didn't want. If they would have tried it with me, I would have walked, and that's something that anyone who may work on commission does not want.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 9:45 AM, jbernardca wrote:

    People, get your heads out of your #ss!!!! Blackberry has no problems with apps and their way more then 120k which by the way most people have between 4-10 apps on their phones. Unless you use your phone as a toy.

    Also...........HTML5 is rapidly becoming the norm and those stuck on apps will fall behind. The Apps argument is over. The new BB10 phones are mobile computers, jeez you can even plug them up on the home screen with a micro hdmi. I have owned every phone except iPhones. Tried them several times and just find them to be more of a toy and the keyboard experience painful.

    Not worried about Blackberry, watch the results June 28th and then again 3 months afterwards. ;)

    Theirs a phone and OS for everyones needs. If it wasn't for the U.S. couch speculators that call themselves analysts we wouldn't have these uneducated write ups.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 10:51 AM, HelpIsHere wrote:

    How long can BlackBerry continue to port Android apps? Looks like forever. This isn't much of a debate here, why the article? The whole app thing is so over blown, we need to move on here, this is embarrassing.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 11:26 AM, davegetrational wrote:

    How about 1. How long can Google piggy back the open source community. 2. How long before Google monetizes android? What is the timeframe when patents added to android in addtion to the open source component become part of the public domain?

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 11:42 AM, magnaman1969 wrote:

    BlackBerry will surpass Windows in total app count by end of the month.

    Porting android apps and now supporting Jellybean is the right move.

    Thus is a dumb article...isn't "lack of apps" what you fools always harp about?

    Now that us is clear the app question has/ is being solved ( adding on average 600 per day,faster than Any other pkatform) what will you harp about next?

    Ad for apps on BlackBerry App World...the only ones that get my money are BlackBerry native. I'll use free ports..you want my money..go native.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 12:28 PM, Chippy55 wrote:

    More nonsense Blackberry bashing from the Fool.

    Blackberry phones are THE most secure device out there, it's not just something to play Angry Birds on and look at pictures of ducks.

    Only the Fool and small minded thinkers are consumed with Apps counts. You can download 270 per day from Apple each day for an entire year and not reach the end. Wow. You now have 1 million apps on your phone. Stare at it much? The talking heads on TV last week said the average person stares at their phone 6 times an hour or 150 times a day. Get much done at work? No? Blame it on Apple and all their apps.

    By the way, how much time is spent playing Angry birds, I keep seeing stats claiming billions of games played. Sounds real juvenile to me, best leave the Blackberry for people who want to be productive and secure like the Dept. of Dense which has given its approval for the Blackberry to its 470,000 employees who use them.

    Students at Georgia Tech have demonstrated that ANY Apple device can be hacked through the charger. Ever seen weary travelers at an airport huddling around a "free charging station"? How long before some nefarious individual figures out he can hack those devices and before the traveler has a clue he/she will be hundreds of miles away.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 12:36 PM, gettmoney wrote:

    how many comments are here, I hope you fools count your pennies per click...because that's how much this so call article is worth...long bbry

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 3:52 PM, k1moops wrote:

    How would you feel in paying hundreds of dollars extra for a Blackberry that is designed for its own BB10 yet is trying to run 90% of its apps that are designed for a totally different Android operating system? it is a very disturbing and annoying act by BBRY, what is BBRY thinking? it is just common sense to simply make Android smartphones if they are to run Android apps, BBRY's going through all the hoopla making BB10 phones that do not support BB7 but goes through lots of hoops in order to run Android apps just does not make any sense, nor is it smart because Android apps change very rapidly and unpredictably making BBRY's effort in running Android apps with all the changes and updates impossible, and ridiculously unrealistic. Upon reading some comments posted here, no one can boast BBRY running Android apps on one hand, but at the same time mocking these Android apps as Angry Bird fart apps. It is time for these confused antagonists to straighten their acts and stop making total fools of themselves, BBRY deserves better supporters after all.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 3:55 PM, k1moops wrote:

    Good comment, Vespajet.

  • Report this Comment On June 15, 2013, at 6:53 PM, Oril wrote:

    Yawn. What a boring article. Another piece of crap written by Evan Niu

  • Report this Comment On June 16, 2013, at 3:32 AM, asharng wrote:

    Thanks to fool.com, accordingly, I am bought additional 1000 share of bbry. Thanks again.

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