Ina Fried

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One in Five BlackBerry 10 Apps Is Really an Android App

One of BlackBerry’s key goals is getting developers to write apps designed to take advantage of its all-new operating system.

But, knowing that not all developers are ready to bet on a native app, the company has offered some shortcuts designed to get programs running on devices like its Z10, which went on sale this week at AT&T.

One of those is an emulation engine that allows Android apps to run. Roughly 20 percent of the 100,000 BlackBerry 10 apps fall into this category, according to Martyn Mallick, BlackBerry’s vice president for global alliances and business development.

“We give them a very nice on-ramp to get onto the platform,” Mallick said in an interview Tuesday. “Our users deserve to have great content. If that is the fastest way we can get some of that content, that’s great.”

Some of those developers whose initial plans were to simply port their Android app are now committing to a native app based on the strong early sales of BlackBerry 10 devices in other countries.

Still other developers, Mallick said, are sticking with their Android apps but adapting them to take advantage of BlackBerry 10-specific features, such as the BlackBerry Hub.

Mallick noted that Amazon added BlackBerry-specific features when it brought over the Android version of its Kindle app, while eBay is adding support for push notifications to the Android app it brought to BlackBerry 10.

Longer term, of course, Mallick wants companies to build native BlackBerry 10 applications.

Some big-name developers haven’t announced BlackBerry 10 apps at all, including Netflix and Instagram.

“There are still some partners that are not in a position where their schedules line up with our schedules,” Mallick said. “There are some partners where their priorities are elsewhere, not even necessarily in mobile.”

BlackBerry is trying a number of tactics to seduce app makers. The company has a $10,000 guarantee aimed at showing developers they can make money on BlackBerry.

The company has also promised that its first crop of devices (there are six models due out in the next 12 months) will all use one of two screen sizes, in an effort to prevent fragmentation.

“Overall we’re excited by what we are seeing in the marketplace,” Mallick said. “We have a high level of confidence we will continue to see more of the application partners come on board.”

As for the U.S. launch, Mallick said he isn’t putting too much stock in reports that the Z10 is getting a lukewarm response at AT&T. Wait until the phone launches at T-Mobile and Verizon, he said.

“Take a look over the next couple of weeks,” he said. “I expect we will see a stronger response.”

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There’s a lot of attention and PR around Marissa, but their product lineup just kind of blows.

— Om Malik on Bloomberg TV, talking about Yahoo, the September issue of Vogue Magazine, and our overdependence on Google