New BlackBerry phones to support Android?

Due out early next year, the upcoming crop of QNX-powered BlackBerry phones will run Android apps, according to Bloomberg.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Hit by weakening sales, Research In Motion plans to add Android support to next year's lineup of new BlackBerry smartphones, Bloomberg reported yesterday.

Is RIM adding Android support to next year's BlackBerry phones?
Is RIM adding Android support to next year's BlackBerry phones? RIM

Citing information from "three people familiar with the plan," Bloomberg said that the new Android-compatible phones will run the company's QNX software and debut in early 2012. A story earlier this month from the blog Boy Genius Report said that RIM will launch its first QNX-powered BlackBerry, code-named Colt, during the first quarter of 2012.

The move toward Android support is designed to enhance the appeal of BlackBerrys and shake up sales, which have taken a dive due to tight competition from the iPhone and Android devices.

A ComScore report from September of last year showed RIM with a leading 39 percent share of the U.S. smartphone market. A more recent ComScore report, released last month, found RIM now in third place behind Google and Apple with just 24 percent of the market.

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RIM has been trying to segue from its standard and aging BlackBerry mobile OS toward QNX since it acquired the open-source operating system last year. The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is currently its only QNX-based device, but the company sees its investment in the new OS as something that could propel it over the next 10 years.

The PlayBook tablet was supposed to be capable of running Android apps by now, but the tablet's support for Google's OS has reportedly been delayed until this fall, according to Engadget. Two of Bloomberg's sources said that a PlayBook upgrade for Android may not come until later in the year.

The Android app player to be added to the new BlackBerry phones is the same one designed for the PlayBook, according to one of Bloomberg's sources, but it will naturally be modified to fit the different screen sizes and resolutions of the phones. RIM is looking to have the Android player up and running on the QNX phones as soon as they go on sale, added the source, hoping to avoid the delay for Android support that has hindered the PlayBook.

RIM did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.