Android Devs - Have you ported your app to the BlackBerry PlayBook yet?

Android Apps
By Jared DiPane on 10 Mar 2012 03:29 pm EST

Just over two weeks ago the official BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 update was finally available for everyone to download. Long before this though the information was readily available that it would include an Android App Player, and RIM even detailed the procedure for Android developers to port their applications and submit them to App World. To entice developers to submit their applications to App World RIM even opened up the free PlayBook offer again, and while many developers jumped at the opportunity, we are left wondering why more didn't?

In the past we have seen big companies drop support for BlackBerry devices, and some companies that just refuse to even begin development, but why? If you, an Android developer, already have a packaged and functional application that you have released on Android, why not take a few minutes to repackage it and let a whole other user base benefit as well? Isn't the idea behind developing an application to get it into the hands of as many people as possible, to have tons of users benefit from and enjoy your application? Why write off an entire brands user base?

Wouldn't an extended user base of over one million PlayBook owners be something that you, as a developer, would want to have access to your application? These PlayBook owners love their applications, spending money on a quality application is not something most BlackBerry users think twice about. We want your application, we will pay you for your application, we just need you to bring us the application.

The process is free, it appears to be quite painless, and it isn't like they are requesting the whole application to be rewritten, just simply repackaged into a file that can be installed on the BlackBerry PlayBook. With well over a million of these out there, even if you price the application at $1.00 and one tenth of the PlayBook owners purchase it, that is a nice chunk of change in your pocket, right?

If you are an Android developer who is on the fence, or decided not to support the PlayBook, we would love to hear from you. Hop into the forums and let us know what factors led you to your decision. 

Jared DiPane Jared DiPane "News Writer for Mobile Nations
Father | Husband | Chipotle Addict"
319 (articles) 6102 (forum posts)

Reader comments

Android Devs - Have you ported your app to the BlackBerry PlayBook yet?


I would be happy with just Skype, and if they ever get VPN to work (cisco or enterprise level) that would allow me to use that remote desktop app I bought.

c'mon MS & Cisco may not be a big base of users but it could grow w/ your support

I'd be happy to buy your Playbook for a hundred bucks. If it is just a dust collector then not only will you have $100.00 bucks to spend $500.00 on a competitor but you will free up your space.
I'll find it a happy home in no time.

The fact is that I'm ready to buy any Playbook in good condition for $100.00 because I am finding after 2.0 that just about everyone I show it to wants one. I'll just wipe it and it is like brand new. Further, I'll buy my accessories from CrackBerry too.

Please contact me and let me reduce your "waste by $100.00 bucks!".

1) Well I made more than 10 games, but only one is "convertable" - the rest uses NDK.
2) Admob doesn't seem to show any ads in the one I converted, but I received the free Playbook so it's not a problem for ME (but will be a problem for most and stops me from taking time to try to modify more apps/games). (my game by the way was is the Solitaire Spider HD - I have better games for Android, but this is the only one that can be converted - I like playing Spider so I play it too on Playbook now, haha).
3) I'm not sure if everyone can sell apps in Blackberry AppWorld (from every country) - maybe yes, maybe not - if not it could be another reason.
4) I can't test converted apps (or do almost anything with Playbook) on my system (Ubuntu) because RIM doesn't seem to know Linux exists.
5) Also I personally really dislike the whole process of submitting, converting and testing apps for AppWorld (too much security causes this process to be cumbersome) and the way they are presented on the device (my game is harder to play because of lack of back button which is present on all Android devices - on Playbook it hides every time I click it making undoing moves harder - I'll have to add additional button to the game...).
6) The websites about Blackberry are also quite strange - I had hard time finding informations and even control panel because every information seems to be on completely different subdomain or domain and there were no links to connect for example advertisment information about appworld for developers with the control panel for developers.
7) I'm writing this as someone new to Blackberry devices, probably not unlike most smaller Android developers. And I probably missed some reasons - because I did the conversion some time ago and don't remember all reasons why it was not a good expierience. I personally also don't like app stores that require long review process after every update (especially when testing on the device is hard) - but that may be just me. Maybe I don't know sth, haven't learned sth important, well, I have Playbook, so if I make sth that is convertable - or RIM allows NDK in Android Player or releases Java Player - I'll convert more of my games. The downloads rate is not bad for my solitaire.

Also a little offtopic - there is very little information for developers on the web how exactly do some things on Blackberry. For example - I'm not sure if jar files can me run on Playbook (after conversion to bar - how to do it? google is silent about this topic), if they did, maybe I could convert more games (because all my games that use NDK have also jar versions).

Maybe to check one off the list, the "back" button on the android player is a simple swipe from the bottom bezel then diagonally up and left. It's pretty convenient and takes out clutter.

In fact, I sometimes try doing the swipe when im on my Galaxy S2, only to forget it's only on the PlayBook and rooted Nook that has that feature.

Number 5. Sorry but you cannot come to BlackBerry and 'criticise' the security.
What makes you think you cannot sell apps in app world?
If you hate converting apps then write them top down otherwise just stay away.

I agree with you about the Ubuntu problem. It's getting more and more popular and RIM doesn't say anything about making a DM or anything to work on it. I know there are a lots of blackberry users that would love to be able to backup, tether and use all the features of their blackberry devices on their Ubuntu with RIM's official software. Pretty much what happens with Microsoft's Office and Ubuntu. :(
But you should try more apps. The funny thing is that many developers don't want to give it a shot with blackberry devices because of all the recent media attack on RIM, but blackberry users are HUNGRY for good apps, and the moment we see one of those apps on app world we will instantly buy it. Your Spider Solitaire is a very nice app :)

Honestly, this is a great article but it's not going to gain any traction if it's posted on Mostly rabid, loyal blackberry users visit this site so I'm not too sure how many non-blackberry-using android devs would pay attention to the website. Better to post on androidcentral or something

Totally agree this might not be the best place but you clearly don't come here often, otherwise you'd know this site is about 50/50 BB lovers and BB haters (mostly iFans).

It may not be the easiest process in the world but Id rather do it to make more money from an app world that has more folks spending than to swim in a pool with a kazillion malicious apps and to get very little exposure because of it.

Keep working at it bro. I'll tell my buds to buy your app too!!!!

What is the point of crackberry making an editorial on this? It's not like this is really going to get developers to submit their apps to app world, although I would really want the developers to.


After reading Magnesus's post; BlackBerry is all about security and this is something a lot of blackberry users love! I totally understand about your frustration about the process (apps/games), but giving up is not the answer, I saw your game in app world and I'm gonna buy it. I'll even have some of my family and friends buy it. Don't give up on us, we will support you all, keep bringing high quality games/apps to appworld!

Peace and love!!

I totally agree. Without security you start getting viruses and malware. Wasn't there just a recent article about over one fifth of the apps on android contain malware. And recently both ios and android have apps stealing photos and contact info without users knowing? I for one am happy RIM puts priority on security.
I think most appreciate the android dev community porting apps over and are willing to pay for them.

Apps downloaded from Android Market rarely have any malware, and you're at no risk unless you're rooted. I found RIM's approval process to be long and tedious. It takes them around 3-4 days per release which is honestly too much for me. Anyway, I liked the platform and I might develop more (native) apps for it once Cascades has been released.

Is 3-4 days, heck even 3-4 weeks really "too much" waiting time to potentially be making a few extra thousand bucks in their pocket?

Damn I think the devs of successful android apps are so rich they don't think it's worth bothering to try and possibly make more money by porting.

Actually, I'm starting to think it all comes down to one of three things: 1) they are lazy/don't need the money, 2) they just don't care, and 3) they hate blackberry with a passion.


Just a thought!! Perhaps if you were to make a list of apps already converted for the Playbook more or us would then become aware of their availability and buy/download them. Perhaps, then, the other developers would be influenced to convert theirs over. I knew nothing about the spider solitaire having come from an android app. We need to find a way to motivate developers!!

What do you think? Would it be easy enough to start such a list or perhaps a sticky entry on the Playbook forum!

I am surprised that some Android developers hold back. I've spent at least $50 since I own my PB. I have downloaded from Appworld or sideloaded many android apps. many work really really well. The guys who developed Dolphine pulled it from Appstore and yet I have it on my pb, I lke it a lot and in fact I am writing this comment through Dolphin now :)

I created my first app late last year and have just ported it to the BlackBerry Playbook. I am working on some new apps and also plan to bring them over.

DEVELOPERS, ENOUGH WITH THE EXCUSES!!! Excuse1) its too hard to code for BB- Solved. RIM made it super easy, so easy that I could probably convert an app if I had one. Excuse 2) nobody's buying the playbook- Solved. Sales have picked up tremendously in the US and other countries. Its the number 1 selling tab in Canada for crying out loud. Excuse 3) No native dev kit- Solved. The NDK has been released. Lets get crackin! Excuse 4) Its only available for MS, and Mac, what about linux- They gave you a Playbook for crying out loud! Enough with the excuses! If you knew you weren't gonna do nothing but put out an app that you even described as "not your best" just to get a Playbook then RIM just got robbed. Don't pretend its because of Linux or whatever. Hell no I'm not buying no shitty solitaire app.

I also made an app specially for PlayBook and am happy to report that it was a good experience, though the review process took almost three weeks. After I bought my PlayBook, I have almost stopped using my ipad (too big for my liking) and also my galaxy s II (feels too small and cluttered now). I must admit that one of the reasons why I was motivated to make an app in the first place was to support BB and the lovely PlayBook UI.

I believe you can convert your app via the BB website, you don't need Windows, so Linux users have no excuse :)

Can the Dev's that post in here tell us what apps they have posted? I'd love to check them out and buy them. I just went to check out Spider Solitaire HD and (strangely enough) I was disappointed that it is free. I would pay a buck or two for this. I spend that on coffee every day, and still don't win the Roll up the Rim contest (ever!). I'm all for supporting Developers if they give us their time and good quality apps. Thanks Magnesus.

Rockin' the 9900

Battleheart dev says it's not continuing development for Android, why don't they port to PlayBook and increase the audience.
http:// creator-of-battleheart-says-android-revenue-too-low-to-continue-development-cites-support-costs/

I created my very first Android/Blackberry app because they gave away a Playbook. Now I've created not only one but two apps(one of which is still waiting on the test house).

Being that this was the first time I've ever attempted to finish an Android app it was a frustrating experience trying to get the vision in my head into a mobile app but I think it was worth it.

The hoops that the Appworld makes you jump through seem annoying but they weren't hard to accomplish. Also the signing process wasn't difficult(Once I remembered there where two separate passwords and one was tied to my vendor account) but maybe that was because I was writing the app brand new and not trying to convert an existing app.

we are from grape unicom and right now we are in process of building app for the enteprises in playbook ofcource, guys please update us if you require a standalone printing app for playbook since weare building that app for a e gov in middle east.

and please suggest any corporate app you wish to have on playbook. suggest the pricing also.
do mail me for suggestion tabish at grapeunicom dot com

Blackberry addict
bb bold 9900 + 32 gb playbook.
Previous devices: Iphone 3gs-bold 9000- bold 9700.

Yes, a printing app is needed for Playbook. I was reading a thread on this only a few days ago. Price? A few bucks eh. Thanks grape unicom!

One thought I've been having lately, right now is a confusing time for some developers, their not sure if it's worth it for them to do any work on the BB platform. They to hear the press reports that BB is dead.
I as well as many others understand this to be false. BB10 is going to be a hit. It's clear that millions of BB4.5.6&7 users will buy BB10 as soon as its out!
Having said that my thought is that the smartest developers, with real apps/games that will develop for the PlayBook 2.0 soon to be BB.10 Stand the best chance at being the biggest winners! Early Bird gets the worm! It's very true in this instance. That's by no means just old android devs. First mover advantage plays out in many ways.

Apple has all the media attention and all the stories of overnight millionaires.

Android has all the complaints about poor sales.

I think that everyone who isn't Apple gets lumped into the poor performing category with Android by default, whether it's true or not.

In my experience with Solar Explorer, there are probably four markets worth worrying about on Android: Google Play (or whatever they want to call it), Amazon, AppsLib and maybe SlideMe in that order.

If you are a developer and your app is portable, or can be modified without too much trouble, then the time you spend releasing your app on any market after the first one or two above would probably be better spent getting your app out for Playbook.

I think the higher profile developers who are making money on Apple will probably look at Playbook, estimate the costs for releasing and supporting a version of their app/game and then look at the estimated income. If the profit increase doesn't warrant the effort, then they won't do it.

That will change over time as more Playbooks are sold, but in the meantime, all the smaller developers on other platforms, Android and iOS, with a solid product but no market presence have a golden opportunity that they'd be crazy not to take advantage of.

I'm sorry but an Android developer who doesn't want to port their app is (in my opinion) an idiot! It's free, you get more people able to buy your app, even if it's free on android, charge 50c - $1 for it, you'll only make money, what's so difficult?


I am more than willing to pay for my apps - problem is there are only a handful of decent apps on Appworld, I get the impression that a lot of Android devs were just in it for the free PlayBook.. so sad!

The playbook has been a waste of money and time. Waited so long for the release of OS 2, and still android player does not work. Installing it was also a pain in the butt and still no easy instruction for installation. Ipad 3 here I come. I've been using my blackberry phone for a good 7 years now and will soon be switching to a Iphone. Blackberry = slow innovation, poor software etc.

Installing what, was in pain in the butt. There is no Android player to install. It comes with OS2. It is built in. And even a total technophobe can manage to install a simple update that requires you to click on an update button.

Either you don't actually have a Playbook or you have some ulterior motive for making a negative post. I suspect it is the latter as it seems a lot of Apple and Android fanboys seem to feel they need to knock the Playbook. I wonder why. Maybe it is because it is, in reality, a far superior device even if it is lacking the app support at the moment.

I don't get some of the complaints, I have converted and signed several android apps to test on the Playbook. Most of the ones that worked took less than 5 minutes to convert and sign. Surely it is worthwhile for developers to take those 5 minutes and perhaps make some money from BB users.

Comment from facebook from softpauer - the developers of the awesome F1 Live Timing App - thy have ipod/ipad/android (phne+pad)/bbos5/6/7 versions. and this is a US$20 plus app

"F1 Timing Application -- If we do a Playbook version it will have to be a native app as playbook doesn't support JNI Android apps (our app is one of these on Android)."

That's what I love about this site. Instead of supporting developers that are struggling with the conversion process, they are called "idiots" and "lazy".

Anyone who doesn't like their playbook (and some of us spent A LOT of money on them before the fire sale) is also told to go away and called a troll.

I have a playbook. It isn't great. Sideloaded Words With Friends basically brought the entire app player to a standstill last week until I rebooted the PB. All I wanted to do was check out my task manager. I would sell the PB but I would lose about £300 on the deal as I paid full price.

So instead I am going to hang around and hope that the Playbook improves. But seriously guys, you have to be nicer to people. Otherwise you are just digging your own graves and there won't be anything left of RIM before you know it.

And this blog entry was posted on Android Central and didn't get a great reception there either.

Developers saying that it's tough to port over their apps to BB sounds insane to me. Isn't the overall goal to making an app is to make money? Why wouldn't you want more people to have access to something you've created?

Great Article. I've been reading several of the posts and it made me wonder from past posts. If RIM is dying how come it hasn't died yet, and I've been hearing this for several years now. Since then RIM has acquisitioned several companies, brought on new better units, improved sales, the PB still hasn't died (remember the DOA articles on the web), and a slew of articles that purposely slant, deceive, and omit facts about the PB when compared to the Ipad. I always wondered why haven't the comparisons been about the build, quality, utility, intuitive use of the unit, neat features, not necessarily about more apps, bigger screen, and .50 ms or 5 seconds faster browsing loading time. Just saying. :)

Agree, this is the wrong place, and I wish this post would get to the RIM execs. Since this article is already a few days old, only a handful of people may see this.

I run Flying Wisdom Studios, we have been around since late 2008, developing iOS and Android applications. To date, we have shipped more than 15 Apps - mostly games. Our latest App, Brisksaber, has over 1.5M downloads, and over 10M sessions i. I haven't read all the posts here, but I am sure the general consensus is the same. It is quite SIMPLY a question of the numbers and economics. Small companies like us, or developers just starting out, have absolutely no reason to develop for the PlayBook. Here are some statistics that leave no room for interpretation.

- A new research report from Forrester Research finds that Apple's device now has a 73% stranglehold on the tablet market.

- 17 million tablets were sold in 2010 -- and 14.8 million of those were Apple iPads.

- 55M iPads have been sold to date. The general consensus is 60M will be sold this year alone, bringing the total sold since the tablet was introduced in April 2010 to more than 100 million

- So where's the other 27%? That's a good question. Forrester found that Samsung was the leader in non-iPad tablet manufacturing, but even if you combine all of its Android tablets, it still only commands a 5% market share.

- As a Samsung executive put it bluntly last month: "Honestly, we're not doing very well in the tablet market."

-RIM revealed in December that it shipped only 150,000 PlayBook tablets in the third quarter. That was a drop from the already paltry 200,000 PlayBooks shipped in the second quarter, and the 500,000 shipped in the first.

It's simple, would I rather try and get 1% of 100M (iPads), or 1% of less than 1M (PlayBooks)? This doesn't even include the massive iPhone/iTouch, Android numbers.

Developers need to eat, just like everyone else, and we don't have development resources sitting around free to do R&D on a platform that doesn't even make the graph or pie chart of these research firms. Any free time and resources we have will be put towards the platforms that can keep the business alive. Not to mention, why would we train our employees on a platform that has no market share? The employees themselves don't want to waste to learning how to build or release for a platform that has no value on their resume. Where do we get our food? From the publishers - ngmoco:), Glu Mobile, EA, Zynga, CrowdStar, 6waves, Playdom, GREE, etc. The publishers fund the cost of development, provide marketing and the distribution channels. The developers pitch the publishers to for work on publisher IP's, or to fund the developers's original IP and concepts. The publisher's don't care about RIM at all. They have no incentive to spend time and money to get a version of the product out on the PlayBook. All they care about is the product being on iOS, Android is secondary, Microsoft is never mentioned, and RIM, well - you would get laughed out of the room if you even suggested money should be spent to have your application ported to the PlayBook. The publishers wouldn't even want it if the developer did it for free, because that time and energy could be spent on making additional features.

If it's not even worth Amazon's time to put the Kindle Reader on the PlayBook, or Netflix to create a PlayBook app, it clearly is not worth it for an independent developer. The only reason EA's games, Cut the Rope, Angry Birds, etc. are on the PlayBook is that RIM must have paid huge sums of money to the developers to make it worth their while. I shudder just thinking about the negotiating leverage these companies had with RIM.

Let me just bury the notion that its a flick of a switch to get Android Apps ready for PlayBook. We still need devices, we still need to read the documentation, we still need to ramp up and learn, we still need QA, etc. It's just not worth it for the minuscule market share of the PlayBook. Not to mention, games by nature of their performance requirements, use the NDK, so it's not straightforward. Even the most widely used middleware engine - Unity, which we have used on our last two products, target iOS and Android natively, but don't target the PlayBook.

Let me end by saying that I am a huge BlackBerry fan (since the 7800c). I am the rare Silicon Valley RIM cheerleader. I sport a 9930, while everyone else around me owns a iOS or Android device. I went to GDC this past week, stopped by RIM's booth, and explained all of the above. What did I get? A free PlayBook. That's nice, but I won't be handing it to an engineer in Developer Mode. What I need from RIM is money to cover porting one of our games over or funding one of our original IP products, plus an additional amount to cover the opportunity cost of spending these person months away from developing on iOS and Android. Sadly, this is the baseline RIM needs to start at with (game) developers.

What a fantastic post! I think this really shines a light on the issues developers face when it comes time to consider bringing their products over to the BlackBerry platform. I wonder if the other developers who are still waiting to bring over their apps are in agreement with you? I hope that this thread gets some more quality posts like this one so that a game plan can form to address these concerns. Thanks for the insight and I hope to see some of your work in App World in the near future!

Thanks, I post because I care about the platform and want to see it succeed. I am sure the other developers agree. I don't see any logical reason to develop for the PlayBook, except maybe that it may be easier to stand out, and the users are hungry for Apps. Even so, it comes down to the very basic question of, who is going to fund development? Giving away a PlayBook doesn't cover the cost of developing an App. For iOS and Android, the range in Silicon Valley is typically anywhere between $100k and $600k. RIM needs to create a fund, buy developers and pay for exclusives.

Kevin should post your reply as a new blog post responding to Jared's editorial, so it gets noticed.

I think you make some good points, but one thing that's not correct is your comment on Unity. Unity does indeed target RIM!

Do you use Marmalade? Other game developers have used it to port to the PlayBook.

Yes, developers will have to do some investigating into the feasability of making PlayBook apps, but this is RIM's future phone platform so the potential userbase is large. Even with the "miniscule" PlayBook userbase, Box still got 500,000 users since Sept 2011 (launch of their app). If you have some good games ported to the PlayBook, I bet that more than 1 % of the users would buy them. And they would pay more than what iOS or Android users would pay. I just checked my iPhone and my PlayBook. I have 68 iPhone apps (paid for 2 of them), and I have 164 PlayBook apps (that number seems a bit large, so perhaps some of them are RIM's) and I've paid for at least a dozen of them.

Anyway, I appreciate your insight!

Yes, Unity does support PlayBook, but at this point in time - you have to pay Unity to do the conversion. I confirmed this with the folks at RIM during GDC. Hopefully, they strike a deal with them soon.

Unfortunately, me, like many developers cannot invest in potential. iOS and Android is such a HUGE market right now, it's hard to move off of the 'crack' ;)

Thanks for the insight, Ive learned so much by this. Hopefully there'll be a bright future for the Playbook. Good luck with your future endeavours.

Not sure why RIM is not being agressive about this part, it can outsource some of tedious approval, assitance work for devs to india for minimum money. I know some people pay $6/hour to overseas programms to code websites, develope graphics and stuff.

Yup; jumped through the hoops and had confirmation that a Playbook is being shipped. We use Titanium to build our apps, but the latest versions of the SDK don't play nice with the Playbook. I'm working out which version will package okay & intend to release new versions onto the Playbook when I've got the free one to test it all out on.

Very interesting... I feel that there should be a website (on crackberry), or application (to download), or menu on blackberry appworld, to suggest on what is missing, and for other people to vote on them. Just like Kickstarter.

A pledge goes a long way in encouraging developers. Anyone has a good idea of a good name for such an application?

I could not find any android app player on my playbook. I mean I am not getting anything out of it. Anybody who can help me out with using the Android App player on Playbook with OS.20.