PlayBook support for Android?

This means Google’s (GOOG) got to continue to sweeten the pot for Android device manufacturers, developers and consumers, and maybe get some key partnerships of its own. Rumors of RIM’s (RIMM) PlayBook tablet supporting Android apps are still running the mill, with Bloomberg citing the BlackBerry maker’s early plans to include an OS that runs Android. CNET gives the latest rumors little weight, suggesting Android support wouldn’t be in RIM’s best interest. But how quickly will the tablet market and its supporting operating systems have to consolidate?

Tablet market consolidation

It’s been a big week for tablets, with Google promoting its specialized Honeycomb 3.0 platform, Dell (DELL) and others announcing their plans around the mobile OS, and competitors like HP (HPQ) introducing tablets running their own in-house operating system, webOS. Some tablet makers are hedging their bets, with plans for business tablets to run Windows Phone 7, and consumer tablets to run Android. These are all branches of an expanding market that will delineate itself around consumer demand.

With so many driving factors around tablet adoption, there’s plenty of early room for verticals and separate operating systems, though we’ve learned from the smartphone market that only a handful of device-OS combos will take the lead. The same is likely to play out for the tablet market, as smartphones are still the stepping stone to tablet function and usability, not PCs. As tablets incorporate more PC-like capabilities, however, there will be new opportunities for distinct tablet platforms to gain on their competitors.