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BlackBerry inks deal with Amazon to get Android apps on its mobes

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BlackBerry is shaking up its code store options in a bid to win new apps and content for its widely shunned BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Most notably, the Canadian firm announced on Wednesday that it has reached a licensing agreement with Amazon to allow BlackBerry users access to the Amazon Appstore.

Amazon's store won't replace the BlackBerry World store and it won't offer native BlackBerry apps. Rather, it will make available the more than 200,000 Android apps Amazon offers to BlackBerry 10 users as direct downloads.

BlackBerry fans have been abuzz about the platform's its Android compatibility layer since late last year and the company began rolling it out as part of an official OS update in January. But BlackBerry itself hasn't exactly been crowing about it; in fact, the blog post announcing the OS release that included it didn't even mention it.

That may be because so far there hasn't been an easy way for BlackBerry users to browse a rich selection of Android apps. BlackBerry accepts Android apps in its store, provided developers bother to submit them. But BlackBerry 10 devices don't come with preloaded access to the Google Play store, which is the place most Android users do their shopping.

Some BlackBerry users have resorted to side-loading APK files downloaded from non-Google sources, but that's hardly a consumer-friendly option.

According to AppBrain Stats, there are now nearly 1,300,000 apps in Google Play. The Amazon Appstore isn't a patch on that, but according to BlackBerry it now hosts many of the more popular Android apps.

"You will be able to access popular apps such as Groupon, Netflix, Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft – all available for direct download!" the company said in its announcement.

That's not the only change coming for how BlackBerry owners shop for content, though. While BlackBerry World will continue to be the place to get native BlackBerry apps, the Canadian firm said it will be shutting down the music and video sections of the store, effective July 21.

"In addition to the greater selection of apps, you will be able to access video and music services through a number of popular third party services available through the Amazon Appstore and BlackBerry World," the company said, adding that content downloaded from BlackBerry World before July 21 would continue to be available after that date.

No explanation was given for the change, but it's no secret that BlackBerry is looking for ways to streamline its business. Its most recent quarterly results were its worst since 2007, and it's in the process of shedding 40 per cent of its workforce. It will report its earnings for the first quarter of its fiscal 2015 on Thursday.

BlackBerry says the Amazon Appstore will appear on its platform when it launches BlackBerry 10.3 in the fall. No hard release date has been given, but a beta release has already been made available for developers. ®

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