38 Comments

Summary:

Research in Motion finally unveiled its much-rumored BlackBerry tablet yesterday, and it looks a lot more impressive at first glance than the company’s most recent handset, the Palm Pre-like Torch. But is this a game-changing device, or will it stumble out of the starting gate?

playbook_feature

Research in Motion finally unveiled its much-rumored BlackBerry tablet yesterday, and it looks a lot more impressive at first glance than the company’s most recent handset, the Palm Pre-like Torch. But is this a game-changing device, or will it stumble out of the starting gate?

The Business of Play

First, note that even RIM is reluctant to frame the device as a direct iPad competitor. The press release for the PlayBook emphasizes its business appeal, citing “advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support” and a brand new development platform aimed at IT departments. BlackBerry knows where its real strength lies, and it seems to know to avoid Apple’s, too.

RIM didn’t create the PlayBook to storm the consumer market. It did it because it had to, or face losing enterprise customers to iOS. Since a tablet is definitely useful in a business setting, people are already buying iPads for enterprise purposes, basically because they don’t have a choice. It’s probably true that most would prefer a BlackBerry option, so that’s what RIM’s providing. That also accounts for the timing of the announcement. RIM showed its hand early, but it’ll stop some businesses from making an IT buying decision until it can bring a device to market.

Early to Rise, Early to Bed

RIM may be retaining some customers on the enterprise side by announcing early, but it definitely isn’t doing itself any favors in the consumer market. First, Apple and other competitors know exactly what’s coming in six or so months, making it very easy to plan product updates that surpass the PlayBook’s hardware specs. Second, savvy consumers can tell that the PlayBook’s specs are on par with the iPad now, and perhaps beat it in some areas, but they also know Apple updates its devices at least yearly.

That means consumers are expecting an iPad with Retina Display and probably at least a front-facing camera with FaceTime at around the time the PlayBook arrives. The iPad revision’s upgrades will probably make the BlackBerry look decidedly last-gen.

The App Lead

Even if the BlackBerry PlayBook launches with a terrific development framework, and App World gets a significant update that makes it much more appealing to users, Apple’s lead in the app game is basically insurmountable at this point. That’s bad news for RIM’s hopes in both the consumer and the enterprise arena.

Forced to Follow

So is the PlayBook revolutionary? No, it’s a bitter pill RIM CEO Lazardis and Co. were forced to swallow, and it’s being rushed to market to defend a market segment that’s traditionally belonged to the BlackBerry maker. But RIM will continue to succeed in business, for the same reasons that it always has.

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  1. Rookie Mistake.. iPad II will have a front and backfacing camera for sure, that’s about the only thing the “Playbook” has over the iPad.

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  2. If it supports flash then I’m sold.

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    1. According to the specs it supports Flash and HTML5.

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    2. yeah, if it runs something that makes everything run slow and makes it heat up, i’m all for it too, sounds like fun..

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      1. Hey Nick check this out !

        Playbook vs. iPad

        definitely take a looksee and let me know what you think

        ;P

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    3. Good luck with that – I’m sure battery life will suffer because of that. Notice that battery life specs for the PlayBook were not released yesterday? There is a reason for that…

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  3. I wrote about this yesterday over on TCgeeks, but I see a few things here:

    1. With all of the extra features the Playbook as we do not yet know the true battery life (nor do we know the price).

    2. There needs to be a strong app development community around it or it will definitely fail

    3. RIM seems to be confused right now because they call it the “Playbook” yet their core audience is the Enterprise

    4. The Flash discussion is getting old. Flash had it’s place and time and the time is over. It is not an open standard as HTML5 is and it is not SEO friendly. I realize Flash is important to many people but the fact that RIM is making point of it having flash means that they are really not focusing on what is important here.

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    1. I think that’s a good point on #3, Shane… The name of “Playbook” doesn’t exactly say “Business Enterprise User” to me. Maybe “workbook” or some other business-centric phrase would have been more appealing to their core audience of enterprise users.

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    2. Regarding all the talk about a strong app dev community… Yes, that’s true, but at what number of apps will we stop talking about Apple having more and equating more with better? According to http://www.androlib.com/appstats.aspx there are now about 135,000 apps for the Android platform, and yet everyone is still talking about Apple having the most. Any modern platform, including RIM’s Playbook, will need a decent array of apps. But at what point does total number of apps not matter any longer?

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      1. Apple sold apps to more countries than Android market. Android need to expand non free marketplace in order to gain more trust from developers.

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  4. I couldn’t disagree with you more. The Blackberry Playbook fills a void that the IPad left wide open.

    Dual cameras, HD, small and compact, MULTITASKING.

    It’s going to be a very worthy competitor to the IPad.

    And to Shane: Who cares that Flash isn’t SEO friendly? People develop stylesheets for IPads and Tablets.

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    1. At the moment, the Playbook doesn’t fill a void (or anything) as it’s just a prototype that’s months away from sale at whatever price. And, as others have mentioned, by the time it is a real product on shelves it will be competing with the next generation iPad, not the current.

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    2. I agree with PXLated. By the time the Playbook is released, Apple will make sure there won’t be any void. The iPad rules. The iPad killer is simply the next iPad. Just like in a kingdom when the people used to say “the King is dead, long live the King!”

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  5. Sorry! Wrong URL in the above comment :)

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  6. The Blue Collar Consumer Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    *sigh* already apple followers are trash talking the RIM…. iPad II, get real Nick, if all it takes is a front and rear camera for you to make a decision, you are the definition of an Apple fanboy, and Apple is in trouble. I especially liked how the author states

    “So is the PlayBook revolutionary? No….”

    C’mon, like the iPad was so revolutionary ? It’s just a big iPod, with no use of flash and it’s apparent force-fed product history to it’s users— I believe it’s possible a lot of people will stray away from choosing the iPad once this RIM device comes out. I have a feeling that Apple’s got a run for their money this time around. Just to add, Apple uses patents from other companies to run it’s own devices, their not so innovative themselves when it comes down to it.

    RIM is more powerful, in terms of telecommunication flexibility, production, and what I believe to be it’s innovations. Did everyone forget RIM set the bar for most companies to surpass? This device doesn’t look or seem to act like a giant phone so I think they are already a step above Apple iPad. C’mon seriously, is the iPad so revolutionary? No one remembers the HP iPaq? The originators of the “i(insert clever p word here)”. This was before ipad, iphone, iWhatever. Since the early 90’s we’ve been seeing this slogan. I give credit to Apple for making a clever product and marketing it as such. But I think RIM’s got something here, and apple fan’s don’t want to admit when they’re either wrong, or in this case, fearful of a serious competition with RIM. Even the kindle bashes the iPad over it’s faults, and for Steve Jobs’ sake, it’s a kindle! A digitized, one color device which serves no other purpose but for reading! How can it possibly compare? But it still gets in a strong jab on it’s clever commercial marketing— kudos to Amazon.

    Apple’s days are numbered if you ask me. They better come up with something quick besides some repackaging of it’s present products or an update for the fanboys who only care about cameras and eye candy, because this AT&T monopolization over Apple will ruin them in the future. They’ll probably come up with an update that will allow iPhone sync to iPad because RIM’s doing it. They’ll probably add the camera for nerds like Nick, only because RIM will do it since they’ll probably have 4G for their video calling/messaging without the need for WiFi tethering. Unfortunately though they won’t be able to come up with 4G probably for some while since they are married with AT&T, and that’s gonna be a hard divorce to get out of. Soon we’ll see Apple come up with an “innovative” messaging application only for apple users, they’ll call it BBM–err AM for apple messenger.

    Now everyone, let’s withhold out judgments until final verdict when the Playbook is released. Otherwise we may look back at this article written with a partisan perspective and reminisce over it’s ignorance. Mmmmmm yes, naive ignorance…. it feeds my soul and my motivates my need to write these comments.

    -The Blue Collar Consumer

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    1. First of all “Blue Collar Consumer” (henceforth called BCC, since apparently you dislike real names and urls), take a minute to relax. Better yet, make it five.

      “C’mon, like the iPad was so revolutionary ? It’s just a big iPod, with no use of flash and it’s apparent force-fed product history to it’s users”

      1. Funny how people attacking the iPad for not being revolutionary are defending non-Apple tablets with the same logic.
      2. Just a big iPod? So by that same logic this is just a big Blackberry. Faulty logic, like saying a pool is just a big bathtub. I could go on and on.
      3. The truth is: everyday consumers don’t care about flash. Honestly, they don’t. If you can’t see that, then maybe you shouldn’t call yourself BCC.

      You have the right to admire any tablet you want. Many would argue it’s mostly about taste, but don’t be THAT guy who comes into an apple website just to use bad logic to argue against those whom you’ll never win against. Let’s be honest – iPad has won Round One of the tablet wars. Round Two is early 2011 when these tablets come out and have a short time to deal before iPad 2 comes out.

      I admire the PlayBook, although it’s name doesn’t match it’s crowd. Nice specs but unless you are already a BlackBerry user (like enterprise folk) I don’t see it making any waves.

      Let’s remember that competition breed innovation. At least on that note I can appreciate this latest attempt.

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      1. The Blue Collar Consumer Tuesday, September 28, 2010

        I will answer your points, and since we’re playing the quoting game allow me to quote some parts of your comments, as well as mine, which you may not have read or perhaps comprehended properly.

        1. Funny how people attacking the iPad for not being revolutionary are defending non-Apple tablets with the same logic.

        -The logic behind my message is that from what I have seen, “This device doesn’t look or seem to act like a giant phone…” hence the reasoning which I state that RIM is perhaps a step ahead it would seem since the iPad is just a larger version of a common iPhone/Pod touch. You can say this is my opinion, but I believe that repackaging the same present product, in this case, Apple’s iOS, in a different shell should not qualify it as revolutionary. I don’t think it’s definitive. The iPad and iPhone at it’s bases are equivalent. Again, I wrote: from what I have seen, “This device doesn’t look or seem to act like a giant phone…” this new device could become revolutionary since so far it doesn’t look like it follows Apple’s repackaged fundamentals. In fact we can’t say for sure that it won’t raise the bar for Apple. It’s even stated by the author that it was a bad move by Blackberry to show a commercial of their product because now Apple can counter its competition’s features with that of it’s own in the coming months. I think that in itself shows the influence RIM is showing over Apple, and you seem to unwittingly not notice that detail.

        2. Just a big iPod? So by that same logic this is just a big Blackberry. Faulty logic, like saying a pool is just a big bathtub. I could go on and on.

        -This is where you seem to be confused, nowhere in my comment did I state, guarantee, or show factuality as to my conclusions as to a summation of what the Playbook is or is going to be. This is why I wrote “This device doesn’t look or seem to act like a giant phone…” No one has seen the finished product, I even state “…let’s withhold our judgments until final verdict when the Playbook is released.” The iPad is a finished product, and it is basically a port of modern day iPhone/Pod Touch on a bigger device. That is exactly what an iPad is.

        3. The truth is: everyday consumers don’t care about flash. Honestly, they don’t. If you can’t see that, then maybe you shouldn’t call yourself BCC.

        -Everyday consumers want something that appeals to them in 3 categories, a visually stimulating manner, originality, but most importantly, functionality. It has to serve them a purpose to satisfy their needs and desires. I will take an excerpt from your #2 point where you state a big bathtub is equivalent to that of a pool which is presumingly a jab at my “iPad is just a big iPhone/Pod” logic. However, you don’t buy a big pool to clean yourself, you buy a big bathtub. So you can drain the dirty water after you’re done. Because if you take a bath in a pool you will leave chlorine on your body which will damage your skin. The same reason you wouldn’t take a dive into your bathtub because it may only be 3ft deep and you would break your neck. Your analogy itself is faulty logic.

        I’m explaining this to make a point, not to make you feel bad. An everyday consumer who wants to listen/watch anything Flash will not be able to do so on a current iPad. You are correct most everyday consumers do not know what Flash is per say and maybe they may not know they want it. I have some friends that didn’t know they wanted Flash until shortly after their purchase. But it’s not a question of “do you want flash with that?”. It’s a questions of “would you like to be able to watch streaming movies/clips/audio from your tablet device?” Being the Blue Collar Consumer that I am, I want bang for my buck, I wouldn’t want something that wouldn’t let me watch video clips of news, sports, movies or allow me to listen to streaming news depending on the source. Nor would I want something that does not offer me the flexibility to use any telecommunication carrier I wanted. Nor do I want a product that unnecessarily force feeds it’s users to only use it’s own products or services. I want flexibility and choice. So even to the non-tech savvy this is an apparent Yes/No Q&A to what sort of functionality that they may or may not want to have. Most people want more for their dollar….. period.

        Let’s reserve final judgement until the release Dave.

        “…don’t be THAT guy who comes into an apple website just to use bad logic to argue against those whom you’ll never win against.”

        Your serve David.
        I feed on naivety, give me moooooooore.

        -The Blue Collar Consumer a.k.a. BCC <—(thanks Dave)

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    2. @TheBlueCollarConsumer

      right on the head……..you hit the nail right on the head, its been a while since i saw someone with an adept use of words that have such a flair of expressionism.
      True words coming from an unbiased consumer

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    3. Wow – An Apple hater and an entire blog post in the comments :-)

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    4. Where to begin?

      I really hope that no one sees you as an “unbiased consumer” as one commenter put it. You clearly have some (likely) unfounded hatred toward Apple and Apple users.

      Now, to pick apart your “logic”.

      “C’mon, like the iPad was so revolutionary ? It’s just a big iPod, with no use of flash and it’s apparent force-fed product history to it’s users”

      David B covered this well.

      ——-
      “Did everyone forget RIM set the bar for most companies to surpass?”

      Did everyone forget that Netscape set the bar for most companies to surpass?
      ——-

      “Even the kindle bashes the iPad over it’s faults, and for Steve Jobs’ sake, it’s a kindle! A digitized, one color device which serves no other purpose but for reading! How can it possibly compare?”

      I have an Blackberry, Kindle, iPhone, and iPad. Guess which ones get the most use. The iPhone and the iPad. The Kindle is nice if all I am planning on doing is reading a novel (and it absolutely excels in this). Otherwise (pdfs, reference books, etc.) the iPad wins hands down. The Blackberry is a work phone. It is painful to use. I use it as little as possible. The Torch piqued my interest until I started reading reviews.
      ——-

      “Apple’s days are numbered if you ask me.”

      It’s a good thing no one is asking you.
      ——

      “Soon we’ll see Apple come up with an “innovative” messaging application only for apple users, they’ll call it BBM–err AM for apple messenger.”

      Or they could call it Text Messaging and make the texts threaded. Wow. I may need to patent that idea.
      ——-

      “Now everyone, let’s withhold out judgments until final verdict when the Playbook is released.”

      Yes, let’s. Now, go and take your own advice. I am definitely interested to see how the Playbook fares when it is released.

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      1. The Blue Collar Consumer Tuesday, September 28, 2010

        Unfortunately most of your responses are taken from excerpts of my comments out of context. I don’t have this much time to respond to your every disagreement, or your unintelligible sarcastic remarks with what I wrote. 2 things caught my eye since mostly everything you wrote was 5 or less words in a statement response and was merely as if you thought the comment was somehow directed towards you. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves shall we?

        “Even the kindle bashes the iPad over it’s faults, and for Steve Jobs’ sake, it’s a kindle! A digitized, one color device which serves no other purpose but for reading! How can it possibly compare?”
        [But it still gets in a strong jab on it’s clever commercial marketing— kudos to Amazon.]

        “I have an Blackberry, Kindle, iPhone, and iPad. Guess which ones get the most use. The iPhone and the iPad. The Kindle is nice if all I am planning on doing is reading a novel (and it absolutely excels in this). Otherwise (pdfs, reference books, etc.) the iPad wins hands down. The Blackberry is a work phone. It is painful to use. I use it as little as possible. The Torch piqued my interest until I started reading reviews.”

        In this case you take my statement out of context. I put brackets around the missing part, for where you’re response is based off the latter. The comparison of the Amazon Kindle towards the iPad. I am explaining the idea that the iPad is thought to be invincible, which seems to be the subtle tone of this article, and that even the Kindle takes the opportunity to get in a quick sucker punch on the iPad in one of it’s commercials. Was it effective? It definitely grabbed my attention, it’s as if I was watching David & Goliath, and David was at least standing up for himself. So to clarify for you, since you obviously didn’t understand the point I was making. That if the Kindle is taking a shot, the Playbook may be far more capable of delivering a K.O. I’m genuinely stating that RIM has something here, and when discussing this with Mr. David B, I state that the author of this article is acknowledging the fact that Apple will counter the Playbook’s features with that of it’s own in order to stay competitive. RIM is already laying down some features that the so-called invincible iPad/Phone/Pod is lacking where Apple is going to have to compensate. That you must understand at the very least.

        The only thing is that there will always be a dedicated consumer base, so obviously Apple will not die off, when I say “apple’s days are numbered” that is not to be taken literal. Apple is one of the biggest conglomerates in the world, I’m not that naive, I’m simply implying that with the arrival of RIM’s new Playbook, it is possible that a market share will move towards back to RIM because of it’s flexible-like history. It’s a whole paragraph, not just one sentence. Paragraphs are used to collect a whole of ideas. That is why when you have a new collective thought you separate that with a new paragraph.

        “Soon we’ll see Apple come up with an “innovative” messaging application only for apple users, they’ll call it BBM–err AM for apple messenger.”

        “Or they could call it Text Messaging and make the texts threaded. Wow. I may need to patent that idea.”

        This is just ridiculous. I highly doubt you have a Blackberry, possibly even a Kindle. You sound like a convenient Apple mark. I’ll explain to you BBM. BBM connects people and groups together over a network without the overbearing costs of international texts, data usage, among other things. With the implementation of this feature on the Playbook, this could possibly lead to more BBerry users, people who will be more fond of adding their other friends’ PIN codes to ease the strain and cost of international texts/videos/file transfer etc. This could cause Apple to replicate this service, hence as I comically put it, “AM” (apple messenger). I’m taking a shot at Apple because of it’s reputation of being known as an innovative company, which I believe to be highly commercialized rather than factual.

        I give credit to Apple for a lot that they’ve done don’t get me wrong. But c’mon, why can’t Apple users agree that the iPad is just a big iPod/Phone? Why?

        -The Blue Collar Consumer

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    5. BCC, please check these two links, and then justify your statement that Apple’s days are numbered. Just incase you didn’t hear, Apple is the 2nd most valuable company in the United States, and for a little while the other day was the 2nd most valuable company on the planet, second only to Exxon Mobile. Doesn’t really sound like a company who’s days are numbered.

      http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=AAPL&t=5y

      http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=RIMM&t=5y

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  7. Panasonic has been making tablet computers for years. Apple is simply the first to bring it to the consumer and RIM is simply following Apple’s lead.

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  8. This is vaporware, pre-announced to try and stem the iPad tide before it’s too late. RIM’s first “PlayBook” still will be four years behind iOS development and lack hundreds of thousands of Apps and a huge ecosystem of accessories. It also can never do double duty as a true iPod, which above all else, will be the undoing of all these copycat devices.

    Worse, RIM just made a critical error (besides choosing a consumer-oriented name for a product purportedly aimed at IT). The company pre-announced a second, mobile touchscreen product (the PlayBook, based on an entirely new OS) before even getting a first product (the Bold) done right. Even with its considerable software engineering prowess, Apple got its first, iPhone/iPod Touch products right and was selling millions at a high profit before adding other versions (the iPad). I don’t think RIM has the engineering talent to juggle and maintain two product lines (plus the old, original BB OS) for marginally-selling devices.

    It remains to be seem whether the company also has the artistic talent and executive vision to imagine and create a graphicly-pleasing new OS interface that “just works.” Apple interface designers share control over product designs with engineers. Will this be allowed at RIM? This is the real secret to Apple’s success. RIM and others may be able to superficially copy the basic idea of an iOS device, but replicating the smooth user experience and the integrated look-and-feel of the hardware and software is far more difficult, and even if they give interface designers the power to make this happen, it will not be easily achieved with a version 1.0 RIM product. Just ask Microsoft (though Microsoft still has never really allowed software interface designers to control the development process — you still can tell this by using their interfaces).

    After all, Apple spent ten years developing and perfecting Mac OS X and at least another three years developing what eventually became the iOS from Mac OS X. No manufacturer can replicate all that vision, effort, scalability and cross-platform portability in just one year.

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  9. iPad 2 will make the playbook last gen? Yeah right. If anything it *might* catch up with it. The iPad now has a 1 Ghz Cortex A8 CPU. Playbook has dual core 1 Ghz Cortex A9 CPU. As for the cameras I doubt Apple will beat that. Why? Simply because I already think those cameras are overkill for a tablet. Well maybe not the back one, but the front one for sure.

    As for Retina Display – that would make the 10″ screen too expensive in my opinion.It would need something like 2000×1500 resolution. Apple might want to wait at least one more generation to change that.

    We’ve had 800×480 resolution on 3″ displays for over 2 years now. Apple putting a 960×640 resolution on a 3.5″ display wasn’t that much of a big deal for them, and not that much expensive either. I expect the Android 3.0 phones to come with 1280×720 resolutions.

    Oh, and it’s not only about how expensive the display will be, but also about the performance. We barely even see high end laptops with 17″+ screen support that kind of resolution (2k resolution). I think because of the cost too, but also because you need much more powerful graphics cards to deal with that resolution.

    Even if Apple puts a dual core Cortex a9 with the latest SGX graphics chip, it will still be a little too much for that chip to handle.

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  10. Some really interesting observations both in the article and in the comment area.
    On a condition that this is a real product that will see the light of day in early 2011 I must say that RIM did it again, and did it in the nick of time.
    You see, a lot has been said in previous posts but I have a feeling that commentators and even the author have a very vague understanding of why RIM rules the corporate market.

    You see, I work in a big gov outfit, ICT Operations, and we would never ever use anything less than what RIM provides with its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) infrastructure. The security, the server/client management, the total control.
    Simply put – there is nothing that compares. No Android, no iOS no WinPhone7… All of these and their jabs at corporate market look like child-play compared to the robust power and manageability of BES.

    Seriously – comparing tech specs one to one? RIM is not going after you, tech spec fanatics. This is a business device with some added fun factors to seal the deal with corporate world (all the bosses will still want to play a game with their kid, or play a movie or do a video chat).
    Have to watch for a price tag, but the deal is practically done.
    So, kids, continue playing with your consumer toys… this one is for daddies and daddies’ bosses. You kids go to bed now.

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