Isn’t It About Time, BlackBerry, To Give Up On The Android Runtime?

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BlackBerry, the company formerly known as RIM, needs a miracle to regain any worthwhile marketshare. From what we’ve seen in BB10 so far, their foundation is laid, but it’s going to take a lot to get there. One thing in particular that BlackBerry has constantly touted as a selling point is the ability to install and run Android applications. On the surface this sounds awesome. Hundreds of thousands of apps are immediately available for use. But once you dig deeper, it’s not all roses and magic unicorn dust.

For starters, the Android apps that run on BB10 are based off of Android 2.x which is pushing 2 years old itself. On top of that, many (some would say necessary) features such as in-app payments and Google specific services are not supported. Because of all of this, the app count available to BB10 users begins to tank. And let’s be real with ourselves, who really, honestly is looking at a BB10 device with glee, yearning to run an Android 2.x base and associated apps?

Some of you may point out that RIM announced Android 4.x support coming sometime in the not-so-far future. Unfortunately, no hard timeline was given so that could easily mean 6-12 more months of waiting. And by that time, the next major version of Android (and probably a minor version) will be upon us making 4.x the new 2.x.

But the most damning problem with running another platforms apps on your own – experience. I have yet to use an Android app on a BlackBerry device that didn’t feel half-baked, tacked on and terrible. If BlackBerry is going to win consumers back, they need to offer an experience that can rival iOS/Windows Phone/Android. This Frankenstein project of continuing to run (old) Android apps on top of what is to be their shining, modern jewel isn’t doing them any favors.

So, BlackBerry, how about this – trash it. Get rid of the Android runtime. Reclaim those man hours and those human beings toiling away at a lost cause. Because, let’s face it. You will never keep your Android runtime up to date with the actual version of Android Google is shipping. Having the human talent, monetary resources and company focus taken off of making Android work “ok” on BB10 will free all of those things up to make better native experiences on BB10, because that’s what wins today – great experiences. iOS, Windows Phone and even Android offer varying forms of tight integration with their products, hardware, software and cloud services. Apple doesn’t care what Google is doing. Google doesn’t care what Microsoft is doing. For BlackBerry, trying to work with everybody is holding them back.

Will taking a more closed in approach hurt some partners and customers? Yes, almost certainly. But continuing to cater to everyone else instead of themselves first is going to keep BB10 behind the back instead of in front of it.

Isn’t it time, BlackBerry, to give up this horse and buggy race and focus on what really matters?

Image Credit: SAI

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Gadget lover, smartphone collector, and beer connoisseur. I've been writing about gadgets and mobile technology since 2008 and loving every minute of it. Outside of the digital landscape, I enjoy being active outdoors and playing guitar and drums. I'm always up for a good conversation so feel free to drop me a line on any of my social accounts or via email.