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BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will be able to run... 130,000 Android apps?

RIM is working on software to allow Android apps to run on its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, according to a report, swellingl its apps catalogue to more than 130,000 at a stroke.

The BlackBerry PlayBook could come with an unexpected bonus later this year: more than 130,000 Android apps. No, not preloaded. Research In Motion is working on software that will run Android apps on its new tablet, although it is stopping short of using the full Android 3.0Honeycomb software for the device.

The report on Bloomberg cites "three people familiar with the matter", but says the software may not be ready until the second half of this year, meaning it would miss the PlayBook's launch, which is expected to take place this spring.

Few other details are available, other than the fact that RIM is developing the software required to run Android apps itself, rather than using Google's own Dalvik Java software, which is currently the subject of a patent battle between Google and Oracle.

We have a number of questions about this, though. Google may be committed to openness, but what will it make of RIM sucking its Android app catalogue into a BlackBerry device? Will the apps be standard Android smart phone apps, or will the PlayBook also run Honeycomb-toting Android 3.0 tablet applications? And could this technology also be used for BlackBerry smart phones?

RIM isn't commenting officially, although it is expected to make several announcements at Mobile World Congress next week, so this could be one of them.

The report has made us wonder if -- having been spurned by Nokia in favour of Microsoft -- Google could turn its attention to a stronger partnership with RIM in the future. A BlackBerry with RIM's signature email and messaging and a physical keyboard, teamed with the Android OS? It might seem like crazy talk now, but so did the idea of Nokia making a Windows Phone 7 handset a few months ago...