Hacker purportedly demos iOS apps emulated on BlackBerry PlayBook

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An enterprising developer has demonstrated an alleged hack that would allow iOS apps to run on Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, albeit with certain limitations.

User "businesscat2000" took credit on the CrackBerry.com forums for a video uploaded to YouTube showcasing the concept, as noted by MacNN.

When questioned about the authenticity of the video, the developer claimed to have written a loader to perform the task. According to the poster, the ABI in iOS is "pretty darn close" to QNX's ABI.

"I don't load any frameworks - all imports are built into the loader statically. Makes it much easier to debug and deploy," said "businesscat2000."

The hacker proposed a challenge to other forum users to prove that the concept is real. Skeptics were asked to send non-commercial, DRM-free apps so he could upload videos of the apps running on the PlayBook. The apps were to be built for ARMv6 or universal binary and have 480x320 resolution. Apps based on UIWebView, Maps, CoreData or "any of those classes" were ruled out because they wouldn't work.

Though any solution for porting iOS apps to the BlackBerry PlayBook would be of dubious legality, the hack could possibly provide an interesting boost to the PlayBook platform, which has languished in recent months. The PlayBook already has limited support for some Android applications.

RIM announced that "amateur hour" was over last spring when it released the PlayBook. The launch was a quiet one, however, and the device failed to attract high-volume sales until it received a steep price cut to move unsold inventory. RIM took a $485 million charge on the PlayBook late last year.

If RIM's figures are to be believed, the BlackBerry maker is Apple's closest competitor in terms of generating profits for the app store. The company claimed in February that its BlackBerry App World is the second-most-profitable mobile application store behind only Apple's own App Store. As of February, the store had 60,000 applications.

Meanwhile, RIM is focusing its energy on the upcoming BlackBerry 10 platform, which will work on both smartphones and tablets. A prototype device for the new operating system was described as a shrunken PlayBook by one analyst after a developer launch in early May. BlackBerry 10 was originally scheduled to arrive earlier this year, but the release has been pushed back to the second half of 2012.

Hit with several rounds of layoffs, an executive shakeup and a plummeting stock price, RIM is fighting for survival. In late May, the company announced plans to ax 40 percent of its workforce. After years at the helm, RIM's co-founders stepped down from their posts as co-chairmen of the board and co-Chief Executive Officers earlier this year.