Unlike Apple and Google, BlackBerry provider Research In Motion hasn't given much focus to the mobile gaming market, even though it's a major mobile player.
But now the company is turning some attention towards the mobile gaming opportunity as the company said Friday its upcoming PlayBook tablet will support a larger ecosystem of content, including mobile games.
The Waterloo, ON-based company said Friday that its PlayBook, due to launch on April 19 in the U.S. and Canada, will support BlackBerry Java and Android apps, making it easier for developers on other platforms to bring their software over to the new tablet.
RIM also said it is working with Unity Technologies, provider of the widely-used Unity 3D engine and Union distribution system, as well as AirPlay provider Ideaworks Labs -- both companies will support the PlayBook with their services and tools.
RIM will launch two "app players" that will allow users to download games and apps from the BlackBerry App World, and then run BlackBerry Java and Android v2.3 apps on the tablet. The app players will not be available at the device's launch, but RIM expects them to arrive this summer.
"We think this is a far-sighted move by RIM: the BlackBerry PlayBook is a great device for games and applications, and combining this with content distribution via BlackBerry App World brings an exciting new ecosystem for developers," said Ideaworks president Alex Caccia in a statement.
Unity's Brett Seyler, GM of Unity's distribution arm Union, said "Playbook has all the right ingredients to be a mainstream hit."
RIM also said it added support for native C/C++ development in addition to HTML5, Flash and AIR support for the device, which sports a 1GHz dual core processor. The mobile company's BlackBerry Tablet OS Development Kit, dubbed NDK, is currently in limited alpha release and will enter open beta by this summer.
On Friday the company also reported sales of $19.9 billion for the year ended February 26, up 33 percent year-on-year, with profits up 47 percent to $3.4 billion.
RIM said it shipped a record 52.3 million BlackBerries during the year, up 43 percent compared to the previous year.
[UPDATE: A Unity representative reached out to Gamasutra with additional details and clarifications about the company's partnership with RIM:
-The Unity Technologies / RIM relationship at present is built solely around games distribution through Union, a business unit of Unity Technologies dedicated to syndicating high quality 3D games on mobile phones, tablets, app stores, set-top boxes, connected TVs and other emerging new platforms.
-We've made no commitment to supporting Playbook deployment from Unity at this time. While we’re hopeful that the new platform will emerge as a success that warrants this as a next step, as of today, the path for developers to the Playbook is through Union.
-RIM and Union will start by bringing dozens of Unity-authored titles to the Playbook this year. These titles may just be the first wave to go to this new device, but we’ll be doing our best in working with RIM to ensure that they’re actively promoted and that the platform will be a place where they can flourish and make developers lots of money.]