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Could Android apps put RIM’s PlayBook tab, smartphones back in the game?

by Howard Wolinsky

Is your enemy’s enemy your friend?

Maybe that’s what Research In Motion’s (RIMM) has been thinking as it has watched Apple (AAPL) and its iPhone eat BlackBerry for dessert.

In an exclusive, Jonathan Geller reports at BGR that the new BlackBerry PlayBook and smartphones may run Google (GOOG) Android’s apps.

He said: “As crazy as that sounds, we have been told by multiple trusted sources that RIM is seriously considering a feature that will allow BlackBerry devices to run Android apps.”

Electronista said how RIM would make this happen is unclear. But it said it makes market sense: “While a major contender, the PlayBook faces a lack of native apps compared to either the iPad or Android tablets and could use the extra content to attract buyers.”

Geller said RIM is looking at a variety of Java virtual machines to run Android. He said a likely choice is the Dalvik virtual machine, which Android already uses. He said Dalvik would enable RIM’s PlayBook and other devices to run just about anything built for Android.

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Electronista said: “If it used the seldom updated open branch of Dalvik, it wouldn't have to get permission from Google but could risk being made obsolete until Google's next public code update. A basic partnership with Google could give it more official updates and give a blessing to running official Android apps. The latter isn't as likely since it would amount to reducing the incentive to buy an Android tablet.”

The pundits see big potential for RIM to take a bite out of Apple.

Otoniel Bruno at Pocketberry said: “I’m hoping RIM gets the ball rolling soon as they’re a bit behind in the mobile game at the moment. What do you think about Android apps running on BlackBerry? With the higher specs in their future devices, and all BlackBerry features intact with Android application support, the BlackBerry could get back in the game and become a huge challenge again towards other mobile devices.”

Geller agreed: If RIM “can hang on just a little longer, it could be poised to attack the market again in a huge way.”