New Blackberry phones can play Android apps

There is a lot more coming to Research in Motion’s next batch of Blackberry phones than just a new operating system.

About 250,000 apps, to be exact. The new Blackberry phone models will be able to run Android apps thanks to a groundbreaking partnership between RIM and Google.

This isn’t the first we’ve seen of the two companies working together. RIM’s flagship tablet device, the Blackberry Playbook, pioneered the idea of an Android “app player,” giving users access to the massive collection of Android Market content.

The new version of Blackberry’s mobile OS is called QNX and is a radical overhaul of the standard Blackberry interface, which users have become accustomed to for more than a decade.

QNX has garnered a lot of critical praise for its clean look and feel, strong multitasking capabilities, and intuitive design. It is one of the few things RIM has done right since the explosion of the iPhone and Android.

Some are worried it might be too little too late, and others say that even though QNX is a refreshingly nice operating system, RIM has still failed to keep up with its competitors.

Indeed, the company had a “too big to fail” mentality, and when everyone – both consumers and large business customers – started abandoning the Blackberry brand, RIM had no idea what to do. It has sloughed off market share at a rate that’s almost unprecedented in the mobile industry.

The first QNX-powered Blackberry phones will hit the market in 2012, and may be the last chance RIM has to prove it can remain relevant in today’s smartphone landscape. The ability to run Android apps will be a huge step in accomplishing that goal.