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BlackBerry Z30: The newest flagship Android device in town?

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Android news has been interesting this week. First, there’s the surprising announcement that Google has sold its Motorola Mobility division to Lenovo. Prior to that, there’s the news that BlackBerry’s latest OS update now allows users to install Android apps straight from the .APK file, or through application marketplaces, without having to convert to a BlackBerry app installer, as previously necessary.

The Droid Guy has discussed the motivations behind the Motorola Mobility sale in a recent editorial. In gist, this enables Google to focus on developing the Android platform without necessarily having to be bogged down by hardware devleopment initiatives. And the bigger benefit is that Google will no longer be seen as competing with own customers. Selling its own hardware might be seen as a conflict of interest, especially if big clients like Samsung feel Motorola is being given an undue advantage.

Meanwhile, Lenovo, the second-biggest desktop computer maker in the world, now has a better chance of competing against Samsung and Apple in the smartphone market. Make no mistake, Lenovo is already a big name in mobile, especially in China. With its Motorola acquisition, the company is now at the number three spot, behind Samsung and Apple, which makes for an interesting three-way competition for mobile dominance, particularly in important established markets like the US.

Now for another interesting pieces of news, BlackBerry has released its latest BB10 update, 10.2.1, which enables users to install Android apps straight from the .APK. No more conversions into .BAR. This has interesting implications, of course. It further cements Android as a dominant mobile platform, with Android apps becoming a standard across different platforms.

The compatibility is not just skin-deep, however. Even more interesting than simply being able to run Android apps, the 10.2.1 BlackBerry OS update is found to be actually running a slimmed-down version of Android 4.2.2. A video by Youtube user Tomtechish shows how users can even get a fuller Android experience by installing Nova Launcher.

Some functionalities are limited, however. For instance, Google Play does not work. Some official Google apps like YouTube will be slow and buggy — perhaps due to the absense of the Google Play Services framework.

With the latest BB update even lets users install Android apps more easily through app marketplaces like the Amazon Appstore, or a native APK downloading tool called Snap, which pulls the APK files from the Google Play Store itself.

The question here now is what BlackBerry has planned for its own software platform. The company has already addressed the need to expand its audience, and released BlackBerry Messenger as a cross-platform application for iOS and Android. Interest in BlackBerry devices has waned, though, except for some holdout organizations like certain US government agencies, which are continuing to order BlackBerrys in bulk due to enterprise needs.

This more open approach to Android apps is a gamble for BlackBerry, as some observers put it. This would be interesting to the consumer market, and might give BlackBerry a better mass-market appeal. Enterprise managers might not be as receptive to this move, however.

If BlackBerry were to launch a device that ran Android — either dual-booting Android and BlackBerry OS, or actually running Android out of the box — would that be an interesting idea to Android users? Would it attract smartphone users into switching from an iPhone or another flagship device when BlackBerry launches new phones?

Image credit: Bloomberg