With the BlackBerry PlayBook almost ready to hit the market, RIM has finally declared that its professional tablet will support Android applications.

Launching on April 19 in the U.S and Canada, developers will be able to use two optional “app players” to allow the running of Java Blackberry apps and Android apps.  which will support application run-time environment for BlackBerry Java apps and Android applications created for Android 2.3 and lower.

That means that BlackBerry Playbook owners will be able to take advantage of the 200,000 Android applications already available on the Android Market, adding to the 25,000 apps already available on BlackBerry App World.

“The BlackBerry PlayBook is an amazing tablet. The power that we have embedded creates one of the most compelling app experiences available in a mobile computing device today,” said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion. “The upcoming addition of BlackBerry Java and Android apps for the BlackBerry PlayBook on BlackBerry App World will provide our users with an even greater choice of apps and will also showcase the versatility of the platform.”

Android apps will be placed in a secure “sandbox” on the BlackBerry PlayBook where the BlackBerry Java or Android apps can be run. Developers can simply repackage, code sign and submit their BlackBerry Java and Android apps to BlackBerry App World.

Once approved, the apps will be distributed through BlackBerry App World, providing a new opportunity for many developers to reach BlackBerry PlayBook users. Users will be able to download both the app players and the BlackBerry Java and Android apps from BlackBerry App World.

It’s a huge announcement from RIM, one that we were expecting but surprising nonetheless. RIM will be able to leverage the power of Google’s Android Market and tempt users away from the iPad, despite the fact it is meant to be a purely professional tablet.