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For a relatively new platform, BlackBerry 10 really seems to have found some favor with mobile developers. The BlackBerry 10 app store now boasts over 100,000 applications, and while the reception for the new OS and the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone has been somewhat muffled in the U.S., there are indications that sales are strong in other parts of the world.

But how did BlackBerry build up that app library so quickly? How did the company get such enormous support for BlackBerry 10 when it was, and still is, very much unproven? The answer lies in the Android emulator that BlackBerry built into BB10. Of the 100,000+ apps available for the new OS, 20% of them are actually Android apps that have been ported over to work on BlackBerry 10 devices.

The BlackBerry Z10 is the first BlackBerry 10 device to hit the U.S.
The BlackBerry Z10, the first BlackBerry 10 device to hit the U.S.

In terms of kick-starting a brand-new ecosystem, this was a pretty brilliant maneuver on BlackBerry’s part. It’s an option that platforms like iOS, Android and Windows Phone did not have available when they first launched. Thanks to the open-source nature of Android, BlackBerry was able to support Android apps inside BlackBerry 10 and has allowed developers to bring their Android apps over to BB10 while they feel things out.

Many developers have done just that and are now considering replacing their ported Android apps with native BlackBerry 10 apps.

In an interview with tech blog AllThingsD, BlackBerry executive Martyn Mallick described BlackBerry’s Android emulation support for developers.

“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.”

It appears to be working. And while 20,000 or so apps on the platform are still Android ports, around 80,000 are native BlackBerry 10 applications. For such a young platform, especially one that is trailing behemoths like iOS and Android, 80,000 is an impressive number.

It remains to be seen how BlackBerry 10 will perform over time, but in many parts of the world, the platform is off to a nice start. It still has a U.S. problem and that’s something that will need to be rectified if BlackBerry wants to be the king of the smartphone world again. The BlackBerry Z10 will be available on additional U.S. carriers soon and that will help tell more of the story.

But as far as apps go? Not bad, BlackBerry. Not bad.


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