Bloomberg just sourced three people that said RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook will be able to have access to the Android Marketplace, which in turn means it will run Android apps. It's not a new idea, having surfaced as a rumor back in September 2010, but it's still a weird one.
The latest report seems confident, and says that RIM is making their tablet on the QNX platform, which shares the Posix standard with Android devices. However, that in itself shouldn't make the device close enough to Android tablets to have Android apps run natively on the PlayBook without some serious modification. RIM could be adding another virtual machine layer on top of the PlayBook OS that mimicks an Android to make this work. Having a virtual machine is how Macs can run Windows simultaneously through Parallels or VM Ware Fusion, for example. But it also means app performance will be noticeably slower than on Android tablets.
At this point, with the RIM app store being the way it is (not good), having Android apps run at all, even slowly, is a better idea than having not a lot of apps. Locking in to a competitor's app ecosystem while including RIM's strong email service seems like a decent hybrid tablet that might do decently for business-folk.
Another question is whether Google is OK with this idea. Google has been stingy in the past in certifying what devices can have access to their marketplace, with the Nook being one device that technically has Android underneath, but no access to apps. The whole thing just sounds weird and unlikely to me. [Businessweek]