We heard from quite a few sources at DevCon that RIM finally put the official stake in the BlackBerry Java Player they were talking up at BlackBerry World. I have heard mixed reports on why that didn’t work out though understanding the differences between more modern Java frameworks and BlackBerry Java it starts to make some sense. On the other hand it does leave BlackBerry Java developers in an interesting situation. They can either go back to their C++ roots like me or try their hand at Android development as a way to port their apps.
It seems like RIM is not sure themselves on how that will work though they do have a session at DevCon to show BlackBerry Java developers how to port their skills to Android Player development for the PlayBook. The API’s are not all there though RIM has confirmed that they will be bringing API’s like the BBM SDK to the native SDK but not yet confirmed for the Android Java runtime. The Android Java runtime also does not currently have access to interface with the Native SDK on the PlayBook to create immersive Android Java apps.
On one hand BlackBerry Java apps will be around for quite a few more years since BlackBerry 7 devices will have at least a 2 year life span. Still RIM’s vision for BBX clearly was not focused on Java. RIM has confirmed multiple times that they have dedicated themselves to supporting the BlackBerry Java platform but obviously RIM believes they have taken it as far as they can. You can see the things they are doing with the native SDK on BBX that they could only dream of doing on BlackBerry Java. On the other hand the Android Java alternative is quite a bit different than Java development when it comes to multitasking and other runtime differences for always on apps that RIM devs are used to.
If you are a BlackBerry Java dev I am really curious to hear what you think! You have to admit it is weird that there have been practically no BlackBerry Java development announcements at DevCon 2011 compared to it dominating DevCon 2010 with API’s and such.