BlackBerry has taken heat for a perceived abundance of apps in BlackBerry World being nothing more than Android ports. One BlackBerry executive says that only about 20 percent of the more than 100,000 apps available for BlackBerry devices originated as Android apps.
Martyn Mallick, BlackBerry VP for global alliances and business development, tells AllThingsD that only about one in five BB10 apps are ported. That would suggest that the remaining population, save those that are wrappers for web apps, features tens of thousands of apps built specifically for BB10. If BlackBerry could manage such an incredibly high adoption rate less than two months on the market, why bother with Android apps at all?
Even if you’re someone who doubts the accuracy of Mallick’s estimate, the issue isn’t the number of apps that are ported from Android; what matters is the popularity of apps that were converted. BlackBerry could easily have tens of thousands of apps, but the apps that consumers most want might not appear on the platform were it not so easy to convert Android apps to be compatible with BB10. The conversion process uses a woefully outdated version of Android that will make some features and apps incompatible, but it also is the reason Skype will be available on the BlackBerry Z10 sooner rather than much later. Mallick said:
“We give [developer] a very nice on-ramp to get onto the platform. Our users deserve to have great content. If that is the fastest way we can get some of that content, that’s great.”
Developers who convert their Android apps to BlackBerry 10 are also taking advantage of BB10 features like linking to the Hub and integrating push notifications, Mallick says. BlackBerry’s goal is to eventually make its Cascades SDK the desire method for building native apps, but the company sees Android as a necessary stopgap measure to bolster its app choices for customers.