RIM BlackBerry Playbook Apps Increase to Compete With Apple

Research In Motion Ltd., aiming to make its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet more competitive against Apple Inc.’s iPad, said there are now about 10,000 applications available for the device and more are coming.

The introduction last week of PlayBook OS 2.0 software for the tablet should spur more development as it allows the conversion of applications built for Google Inc.’s Android platform so they can be used on the device, Martyn Mallick, RIM vice president for global alliances, said at a press briefing today at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

“There’s a multiplier effect and we’re on the cusp of seeing that happening,” Mallick said.

RIM is betting the software upgrade of PlayBook OS 2.0 will spur fresh demand and more applications. The Playbook was released in the U.S. on April 19 and while its hardware and video capabilities won positive reviews, sales of the device missed targets in the first nine months it was on sale, following criticism of its lack of dedicated e-mail, calendar and contacts programs.

The introduction of Apple’s iPhone in 2007 first drew developers to Apple’s iOS platform and then more focused on the platform with the introduction of the iPad in 2010. The company’s online App Store now has more than 140,000 apps built just for the iPad.

RIM shipped 150,000 PlayBooks to retailers in the quarter ended Nov. 26, down from 500,000 in the quarter of their introduction, prompting RIM to book $485 million in pretax costs to write down the value of its PlayBook inventory. Apple Inc. sold 15.4 million iPads in the fourth quarter.

Alec Saunders, RIM’s vice-president for developer relations, acknowledged that the PlayBook’s initial failure to live up to its billing had frustrated developers.

“I think we set some expectations that we shouldn’t have but that’s ancient history,” he told reporters.

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