GoMo rant: RIM’s PlayBook let down by lack of Skype

Rating: Skype app doesn’t migrate over from Android

A loyal GoMobile News reader recently acquired a RIM PlayBook tablet from her local electronics retail outlet in the UK. She wanted a low cost tablet and the Playbook fits neatly inside her handbag [pocketbook]. Imagine her anger when she discovered that the PlayBook doesn’t possess an official Skype app. What’s the point of providing a front facing video camera with your tablet if it isn’t capable of supporting the world’s most popular video conferencing system, was her reasoning? And she’s got a good point. The PlayBook was conceived as a useful adjunct to a BlackBerry smartphone and it shows. Hopefully, in 2013 RIM will be offering a new tablet which is designed to go head to head with the market leaders – like the iPad.

At least RIM has taken a step in the right direction with version 2.0 of the PlayBook OS which now offers support for Android apps.

In an ideal world, of course, PlayBook owners would be able to download the existing Android version of the official Skype app and run it in the tablet’s Android compatibility box.

Unfortunately, life isn’t so simple. First of all, someone somewhere (who knows a bit about programming) needs to convert the existing Android app into a usable PlayBook one.

In techspeak this means taking the original Android APK [Android PacKage] file – which is a variant of the JAR format, and converting that into a BAR [Blackberry] format.

Now if you scour the Net, you’ll find that many PlayBook fans have already done the hard work for you and produced a BAR version of popular files.

This applies to the official Skype APK but guess what? GoMobile News has searched high and low for a BAR file which works properly – with no joy.

The best we could do is to find a Skype Beta version which supports the IM (instant messaging) facility within Skype – but nothing else.

In reality you’d be better off paying for a native PlayBook app which handles a whole host of IM formats including Skype.

Of course, the conspiracists amongst you suspect that the lack of an official PlayBook app is down to the fact that Microsoft acquired Skype back in 2011.

The truth is, however, that Skype only runs on BlackBerry smartphones if your mobile operator decides to offer it. (See our previous story here).

Presently only Verizon in the USA and Telkomsel (in Indonesia) seem to have bothered to do so.

If you want to doublecheck this go here or simply type http://www.skype.com/m/ into your BlackBerry’s browser.

In the meantime we are going to have to wait for someone to crack the full Android version.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
This article was published in BlackBerry, Microsoft, RIM, tablets and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to GoMo rant: RIM’s PlayBook let down by lack of Skype

  1. Pingback: GoMo rant: RIM’s PlayBook let down by lack of Skype – GoMo News | Daily android news

  2. john says:

    I video chat on the playbook for FREE. I live in the UK and by brother lives in the US and with our plybooks we can either video or voice shat FOR FREE. I don’t pay one penny. SKYPE is an over hyped and doesn’t work well. People are moving away from anything microsoft.

  3. Noema-Boy says:

    As I’m sure you know RIM will be providing a serious software update for their Playbooks right after they launch the new BB10 phones in early 2013. The BB 10 OS will no doubt have a plethora of choice for various apps and I would assume Skype would be one of them – although not confirmed – or the individual could use the BBM video chat as a possible alternative…you can be rest assured though that RIM will provide some options…it’s too big an area to avoid.

  4. Simon says:

    Good to know John but you left out the obvious. What program do you use? Please explain.

  5. admin says:

    And more importantly … Is it platform agnostic?

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