RIM Eyeing Android Apps For First QNX-Based BlackBerry Phones

Research in Motion (NSDQ: RIMM) continues to hedge its bets when it comes to mobile applications. It’s reportedly going to allow Android applications to run on its first smartphones to use the QNX operating system found on its Playbook tablet, which will also support Android apps.

That’s according to Bloomberg and the usual “people familiar with the plan,” who say RIM plans to have a version of the Playbook Android Player for the QNX-based smartphones that are expected to arrive in the early part of 2012. Those phones will go a long way toward figuring out if RIM can arrest a slide in sales to U.S. customers, or whether it will continue to be ignored on store shelves in favor of the iPhone and various Android phones.

But modern smartphone buyers expect hundreds of thousands of applications these days thanks to Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and Google (NSDQ: GOOG), and RIM simply won’t be able to offer that many QNX-native applications at launch. It announced plans earlier this year to let Android applications work on the Playbook for similar reasons, although it has yet to launch that capability–originally scheduled for “late summer”–now several months after the Playbook made its debut.

It’s a bit of a dilemma for the company, which will likely still try to build a developer community around QNX like Apple and Google have done with their operating systems. But app-fatigued developers who don’t see the point in building a third version of their app may choose to just ignore QNX, reasoning that those users who want their app can just use the Android version.

That attitude will change if RIM starts selling a lot of QNX-based BlackBerrys, but a lot has to happen between now and early 2012 for that to be a realistic outcome.