Playbook update will cut off Android app "side-loading"

The ability to load any practically any Android app on the Blackberry Playbook is about to be axed.

It was a landmark move that came to the device when the Playbook OS version 2.0 update was released, drastically increasing the number of apps that users could load onto the tablet.

As anyone familiar with the Playbook knows, one of its biggest weaknesses is that it does not have a great selection of apps, so this decision was monumental.

Research in Motion, however, apparently isn’t thrilled at the rampant amount of Android apps that are being converted by individual users and then loaded onto the Playbook.

What the company would highly prefer is for the app’s developer to convert it into a Playbook-friendly format and then submit it to the Blackberry App World marketplace so that it becomes an official Playbook app.

In fact, RIM has even gone so far as to offer free Playbooks to developers who go that extra mile. And perhaps that is working because RIM feels confident enough to make it impossible to run Android apps that weren’t converted in that manner.

Of course, it’s a slippery slope. The Playbook gained a lot of praise for its ability to run virtually any Android app, and removing that ability will remove that praise.

On the other side of the coin, there are also piracy concerns. The way the platform is set up now makes it very easy for users to load apps they haven’t paid for.

So it’s a struggle to determine what the right move is, but for RIM, the final outcome is that the days of loading up Android apps on your Playbook are numbered. That feature will be taken out when firmware update 2.1 hits the device.