Technologizer posts about RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry: Vision Needed

By  |  Posted at 8:00 am on Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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RIM Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis at DevCon.

I don’t mean to be painfully Pollyannaish, but I’m almost glad that RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis didn’t announce any new products or other major news at the keynote during its DevCon conference in San Francisco, which I attended on Tuesday morning. A year ago, at the 2010 edition of the event, he unveiled the PlayBook tablet. I got all excited. When it finally shipped months later, it was tremendously disappointing.

This year, the upcoming products that matter for RIM are the first BlackBerry phones based on the company’s new QNX-based operating system–which Lazaridis did say will be called BBX, and which will presumably come out next year. If RIM had provided a sneak peak at them at DevCon, it wouldn’t have helped matters and might have hurt. All that really matters is that they’re great when they finally come out. Who cares how unfinished versions look in a controlled demo?

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BlackBerry PlayBook Sees Kindle Fire, Drops in Price $200

By  |  Posted at 8:36 am on Friday, September 30, 2011

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BlackBerry PlayBook price, come on down, you’re the next—or actually, first—contestant on The Price Wasn’t Right, But We’ll Fix That, in view of the Android-based Kindle Fire, which Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled Wednesday for just $199.

RIM’s PlayBook had been going for between $299 and $499, depending on model, but retailer Best Buy just slashed the price on all three models (16 GB, 32 GB, 64 GB) by $200 each. If that sounds like a desperate, reactionary move to you, you wouldn’t be alone: Analysts are saying as much in the Kindle Fire’s wake left and right.

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The Amazon Tablet: The PlayBook’s Fraternal Twin

By  |  Posted at 3:09 pm on Monday, September 26, 2011

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Gdgt’s Ryan Block is reporting an interesting bit of scuttlebutt which I’ve also heard: that Amazon’s upcoming Android tablet is based on the same hardware platform as RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook:

From there, Amazon’s team determined they could build a tablet without the help and experience of Lab 126, so they turned to Quanta, which helped them “shortcut” the development process by using the PlayBook as their hardware template. Of course, it’s never quite that simple, and as I’m told Amazon ran into trouble, and eventually sacrifices were made (like using a slower processor).

Hardware’s important, of course, but it’s not the only thing. As with Kindle e-readers, it’s the Amazon services that are going to be key in making the tablet stand out from other products that look similar.

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler has some related scuttlebutt: the Amazon tablet will be called the Kindle Fire, won’t be available until November, and will compete against a Barnes & Noble Nook Color 2 that’s also in the works for the holidays.

Oh, and Siegler says that Wednedsday’s Amazon event in New York will definitely include the tablet announcement. Which is good news, since I’m flying cross country to liveblog it. Join me at technologizer.com/amazon at 10am ET on Wednesday, won’t you?



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RIM’s PlayBook isn’t selling well–which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who’s used one. So the price is coming down. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve anything: the problem with the PlayBook is that it’s broken, not that it’s too expensive.

RIM says it’s going to fix the most glaring issue–the lack of built-in e-mail–and with any luck, it’ll have more to say at its developer conference next month, which I’ll be attending. I hope it doesn’t do an HP and kill the product. For everything that’s so very wrong about the PlayBook, its problems are ones of execution–and I still think that it’s possible to build a great mobile platform using the PlayBook’s QNX operating system.

Posted by Harry at 1:55 pm

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One reason why RIM’s decision to let the PlayBook tablet access e-mail only via a BlackBerry phone wasn’t such a hot idea: it’s only now that AT&T customers are able to do it.

Posted by Harry at 9:21 am

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Sprint’s Rumored Blackberry Playbook Delay is No Surprise

By  |  Posted at 2:50 pm on Thursday, May 5, 2011

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More bad news for Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook: A leaked Sprint memo says the carrier has indefinitely delayed its plans to sell a 4G version of the tablet.

The news follows a non-committal from Verizon Wireless, which last month said it was still evaluating the Playbook. Sprint’s alleged memo gave no reason for the delay.

We shouldn’t be suprised to see this happen, but not simply because the Playbook is a critical flop so far. The real issue, I think, is tablet fatigue on the part of wireless carriers. The market’s about to be flooded with competition for Apple’s iPad, so it’s not only a buyer’s market for consumers, it’s a buyer’s market for carriers as well.

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What’s worse than a BlackBerry PlayBook that doesn’t work very well? One that doesn’t work at all.

Posted by Harry at 9:48 pm

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The Era of Beta Hardware

By  |  Posted at 3:25 pm on Thursday, April 21, 2011

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My TIME.com Technologizer column this week is a hands-on look at RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Like other reviewers, I was startled by the lack of full-blown e-mail, disappointed by Flash Player’s quirkiness, and bedeviled by bugs. All of which led me to what seems to be a near-universal conclusion among PlayBook reviewers: you probably don’t want to buy this thing yet.

Still, there’s much that remains appealing about the PlayBook. The hardware is nice and the WebOS-like interface is fun. With a serious software update or three–and more apps–today’s disappointing PlayBook could be the powerful, professional-grade tablet that RIM has been bragging about for months. It’s just that the company essentially released an unfinished product, presumably because it was so very anxious to get into the tablet market before other iPad alternatives had a chance to get an edge.

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Surprise! RIM’s PlayBook Launch a Success

By  |  Posted at 11:37 am on Thursday, April 21, 2011

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Bet you weren’t expecting this news. Despite the multitude of negative reviews in the press (Harry has a nice roundup here and gave the tablet a decidedly mixed review over at TIME.com), The PlayBook’s launch was not a bust at all. In fact, one could argue that it even was a success. Estimates put the sales numbers on launch day at about 50,000 units.

Now before Apple fanboys come out in force and laugh at RIM’s minor victory, lets put this into perspective. That number is more than either the Samsung Galaxy Tab or the Motorola XOOM. While the latter appears to have pretty much flopped so far, the Tab is the single biggest competitor to Apple’s tablet dominance.

Could it be that the technorati was too full of themselves in believing we had the final judgement on the PlayBook, sending it to a premature death? Quite possibly. While its still early it does kind of look like we (well, most of us) may have been wrong to say this would be a flop.

RIM, the ball is now in your court. Fix the obvious issues with your tablet and get your act together with the apps: soon we may be discussing the PlayBook in the same sentence as the Tab and the iPad.



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RIM Counters PlayBook Criticism with Splashy Press Event

By  |  Posted at 9:24 am on Saturday, April 16, 2011

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In the midst of so-so critical reception to its soon-to-be-launched PlayBook tablet, RIM tried turning on some magic this week. At a lavish New York City press event, the newly-minted tablet maker showed off the PlayBook’s sleek good looks, along with some of the 2,000 to 3,000 apps set for availability when the gadget hits retail stores next Tuesday.

In fact, RIM’s App World will ultimately contain about 100 times that number of apps for PlayBooks, said RIM reps stationed along an “App Wall” that took up around one-eighth the floor space of the event venue.

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Blackberry Playbook Reviews and the Premature OS

By  |  Posted at 4:54 pm on Thursday, April 14, 2011

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Tech critics are saying plenty of nice things about Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook, but nearly all the reviews end the same way: Don’t buy it.

The conclusion was predictable. Out of the box, the Playbook lacks native e-mail and calendar apps unless you’ve got a Blackberry phone nearby. There are hardly any third-party apps, and Android app support isn’t coming until the summer. In addition to missing features, some critics had problems with Adobe Flash (big surprise there), and others ran out of memory after running more than a few tasks at once.

But most reviews also note that software updates came in at a rapid pace, and many of the Playbook’s missing features will arrive in a matter of months.

Therein lies a problem with the tablet reviews of today: they all describe a product that may be quite different tomorrow.

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BlackBerry PlayBook Reviews: This Could be a Cool Product. Eventually!

By  |  Posted at 12:55 pm on Thursday, April 14, 2011

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I haven’t laid hands on RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook myself yet–except at trade-show booths–but the first reviews are in for the long-awaited tablet, which goes on sale on April 19th. They all praise certain things about it–the interface, the multitasking muscle–but none of them are raves. A high percentage, in fact, advice against buying it right now, pointing out its dependence on a BlackBerry handset, the lack of true native e-mail and calendaring, and bugginess. (Although RIM says that 3000 apps will be available at launch–which isn’t iPad numbers, but does sounds respectable to me for a brand-new platform.)

After the break, my traditional look at the last paragraphs of the initial reviews.

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Android Apps on the PlayBook: This Doesn’t Change Everything!

By  |  Posted at 7:51 pm on Friday, March 25, 2011

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Yesterday, BlackBerry maker RIM confirmed what sounded at first like a wild rumor: Its PlayBook tablet, coming on April 19th, will run Android apps even though it’s not an Android tablet per se. Apps written for Android 2.3 Gingerbread will be another PlayBook option along with native programs written for RIM’s new QNX-based tablet OS and ones built in Adobe AIR.

As usual with RIM execs, co-CEO Jim Balsillie explained the news in a way that was, um, a bit twisty. (Balsillie and fellow co-CEO Mike Lazaridis have a manner of spelling out their company’s strategies that reminds me of a Choose Your Own Adventure book.) But if I understand Balsillie correctly, he’s saying that the Android compatibility isn’t there as a primary source of apps. People are going to want to run software that’s been designed to take advantage of the PlayBook’s hardware. The large quantities of Gingerbread apps–what he calls “tonnage”–are there in case anyone’s worried that there won’t be enough PlayBook apps, or the right apps for every purpose.

That sounds reasonable enough to me. But it also sounds like it’ll be a distinctly minor aspect of the PlayBook’s, well, playbook.

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RIM has finally announced the specifics on how much you’ll pay for its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, and when you’ll be able to do so: It goes on sale April 19th for the familiar-sounding prices of $499 (16GB), $599 (32GB), and $699 (64GB). The 7″, businessy tablet is the single most intriguing iPad alternative, simply because it’s not that much like an iPad; it’s looked good in demos for months, and it’s be intriguing to see just how close it comes to living up to its hype and promise, both of which are considerable.

Posted by Harry at 9:18 pm

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HP Playfully Punches RIM’s Playbook

By  |  Posted at 9:09 am on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

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Noticing that Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook looks a lot like the HP TouchPad, Laptop Mag’s Mark Spoonauer has instigated a minor spat between the two companies.

A little background: HP’s 10-inch TouchPad uses WebOS, the operating system HP acquired along with Palm last year. The first device to use it, Palm’s Pre, launched in 2009. RIM’s OS is powered by QNX, a company that RIM acquired last year, and the 7-inch Playbook’s interface is built from scratch. Both platforms feature an app tray on the bottom of the screen and large panels representing open apps above. At a glance, they’re nearly identical.

With that in mind, Spoonauer asked a marketing executive from each company to comment on the similarities.

Here’s John Oakes, the HP TouchPad’s director of product marketing:

“From what we’ve seen in the market, there are some uncanny similarities. It’s a fast innovation cycle and a fast imitation cycle in this market … and we’ll keep innovating, we’ll keep honing and those guys hopefully will continue to see the value in it and keep following us by about a year.”

And here’s Jeff McDowell, RIM’s senior vice president for business and platform marketing:

“You know, cars over time end up looking a lot alike because you put them through a wind tunnel, and when you’re trying to come up with the best coefficient to drag ratio, there’s one optimized shape that gets the best wind resistance, right? Well, when you’re trying to optimize user experience … you’re going to get people landing on similar kinds of designs.”

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At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona–which I’m not attending this year–Adobe has announced that it’s planning to bring Stage Video, the FlashPlayer 10.2 feature that permits fast video playback that doesn’t kill the battery–to mobile devices. It’ll be available on Android and for RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet; the Android version will require Android 3.0 Honeycomb, which means it’ll work on tablets such as the Xoom but not on any currently-available Android smartphones.

Posted by Harry at 10:53 am

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