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blackberry-devices444All eyes are on today and its planned announcement of a new smartphone.

But before that much-hyped gadget arrives, here’s some news from one of the earliest innovators in the smartphone arena.

BlackBerry today said that it will make the Amazon Appstore available on devices running the BlackBerry 10.3 mobile operating system, set to be released this fall. The move will allow BlackBerry users to access thousands of apps, including popular applications such as Groupon, Netflix, Pinterest, Candy Crush Saga and Minecraft.

BlackBerry has struggled to attract mindshare of mobile app developers. Allying with Amazon’s Appstore allows the Canadian smartphone maker to tap a catalogue of more 240,000 apps. BlackBerry now makes it easier for Android-based apps to be ported to BlackBerry’s platform, but even still the company has struggled to keep up with the thriving app ecosystems at Apple and Google.

“Making the Amazon Appstore available on BlackBerry 10 devices will help BlackBerry continue to meet two essential needs: greater app availability for our smartphone users and enhanced productivity solutions for enterprises,” said BlackBerry Executive Chairman and CEO John Chen. “We’ve listened to our customers and have taken this important step to deliver on their needs, while executing on our strategy.”

The partnership is interesting, in part because at one point was rumored to be interested in buying BlackBerry. But it also allows BlackBerry to quickly add apps, with the two companies expected to work closely with the developer community to make sure apps are ready for the BlackBerry 10.3 launch this fall.

The alliance comes as Amazon gets ready to launch its own smartphone, with a huge press event taking place today in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. We’ll have full reports from the press conference on GeekWire so check back later this morning.

One important tidbit to watch: How will Amazon work with mobile app developers for its own device?

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