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Summary:

Research In Motion is rumored to be launching a 10-inch PlayBook tablet this year. After nearly a year of dismal BlackBerry PlayBook sales, I’m not sold on the idea. RIM has nothing to convince people to buy such a device over an iPad or Android tablet.

PlayBook4

Research In Motion is rumored to be launching a 10-inch LTE tablet in addition to an updated 7-inch PlayBook this year. The information comes from an alleged RIM roadmap that leaked, with the N4BB blog sharing the details. After nearly a year of dismal BlackBerry PlayBook sales, I’m not sold that a 10-inch tablet is the best idea for RIM.

Before explaining why, let me preface my points with an opinion on the current PlayBook tablet. I like the form-factor, as I’m a big proponent of 7-inch slates; I have used one daily since Dec. 2010. And what the PlayBook does, it does very well.

But what it doesn’t do is still an outstanding issue: It lacks a native email client and doesn’t have the breadth of available applications found on competing devices. RIM had planned to address those issues in a software update last year, but it has been pushed out until February of this year. At CES, I finally got a look at the updated software, and the email app impressed me; you can see it in this video below. However, the Android app player was still a no-show in my demo.

Even if RIM addresses these software issues in February, there’s still a problem. Weak tablet sales aren’t going to entice developers to build apps for the PlayBook. Instead, mobile apps are appearing for the platforms that are selling well and offering a broad user base for potential app sales. Think iOS and Android here.

Another challenge? If RIM creates a 10-inch PlayBook it will compete directly against the best-selling tablet: Apple’s iPad.

With the 7-inch size, RIM has a differentiating factor, although it priced the smaller tablet at large tablet prices. By creating a 10-inch slate, RIM will have to have an answer to the same question 10-inch Android tablet makers have struggled with: Why buy this instead of an iPad, which has a stronger ecosystem?

BlackBerry Messenger isn’t the answer, and even if it was, an updated BBM client isn’t even in the BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 software. Consumers are buying low-cost tablets, so a 10-inch slate won’t likely meet their budgets; especially if it comes with an LTE data plan contract.

IDG yesterday reported that 91 percent of business professionals are using the iPad for work communication. That means, to an extent, the enterprise finds Apple’s tablet safe and secure in the workplace; a perception RIM enjoyed exclusively for years. Simply put: if RIM creates a 10-inch tablet, who comprise the intended device audience and are their needs already being better served by an alternative?

  1. No native email support on a tablet. A second-generation tablet. From RIM. The company that owes its existence to its early ability to deliver mobile email.

    There is only one explanation – RIM has put Orfeo Quatta in charge of product design.

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  2. companies use iPads are only because there aren’t really choices.iPads mediocre performace in enterpise enviroment will be challenged by Blackberry’s new softeware update..and for Apps, professional users won’t require hundreds of apps from app store, companies can build customised apps on blackberry’s platform with higher security and reliablity. so the analysis is only biased towards iPads and not taking into account many facts that enterpise users would consider.

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    1. Joe, you did see that I’ve already got a look at the new BlackBerry PlayBook software update, right? You can see it in the video for yourself. What exactly did you see in that demo (provided by RIM at CES) that will sway enterprises to back down from iPad adoption, which is on the rise? I saw nice features (and still some missing ones), but nothing that answers the question: “Why buy this over an iPad or other tablet?”

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      1. I saw that video and I also watched extensive video demo from CES on Playbook OS 2.0 from youtube and Blackberry official blog. It has much better email & calendar native app compare to iPads. And blackberry bridge for lot people will be a reason, iPads don’t bridge with blackberry phones or iPhone with such intergrated action. iPads don’t have native instant messeging app also, so with or without BBM isn’t an issue. And I also watched android apps run on playbook so although there will not be as much but plenty apps for playbook. For essential business use, iPads won’t have any advantage.

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        1. Joe, I appreciate your response. I’m going to respectfully agree to disagree with you for a few reasons though.

          1. A better email and calendar app — which is subjective, of course — doesn’t sell tablets at this point in the game. Those functions are expected table stakes. WebOS may have had the best email and calendar clients yet (arguable of course) but did that help the platform from failing? No.
          2. If BlackBerry Bridge is a key reason of your argument, I’d ask why BlackBerry Bridge hasn’t yet helped RIM move a large number of tablets; the function has always been there. Yes there are new remote control type enhancements, but is that what customers are looking for?
          3. You say that iPads don’t have a native instant messaging app. Did you miss iMessage in iOS 5, which is exactly that: a native instant messaging app? Here’s some relevant info: http://www.apple.com/ipad/built-in-apps/messages.html
          4. You seeing a small subset of Android apps on the PlayBook and having RIM deliver the functionality is two different things. I hope they do deliver it in February.

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    2. LOL, as if companies can’t build and distribute their own customized apps for the iPad. The Playbook is so underwhelming it’s not even worthy of being called a bad joke. Now Joe, go polish up your CV, your need it when RIM downsizes again.

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  3. Kevin – you are abusing your voice and not doing your homework. AT CES RIM was pretty clear about their strategy. The new Playbook will support those missing apps like email and has a new video library.

    The company has clearly made some mistakes but bashing RIM without understanding their strategy isn’t fair. QNX will supposedly support Android apps too.

    Are they supposed to sit still and die because you only like 7″ tablets and the Galaxy Nexus?

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    1. Dave, I never said that RIM isn’t bringing email to the PlayBook. In fact, I *specifically* mentioned that it is, that I liked what I saw, and I then showed it in the embedded video. So yes, that missing functionality will be there in February. But RIM couldn’t answer my questions about the Android player integration; instead it showed me ported apps.

      Given that RIM missed its own schedule to add email, it couldn’t provide me details on the Android player at CES and won’t have an updated BBM client in the update, I hardly think I’m “abusing my voice.” I’m sharing the details of what RIM showed and told me.

      Personally, I wish them luck as I’d like to see more competition in tablets of every size. I have no agenda or vested interest here, so please don’t imply that I do.

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      1. I didn’t imply you have a vested interest. You do excellent reporting – I was just surprised you kicked them in exactly the areas that they are working to address. Never owned a BB myself, but I am impressed with their strategy (at this point). Although clearly late, it seems to be in the right direction. For exactly the reasons you criticized.

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        1. My apologies Dave! When you said I was bashing RIM and that I only liked a certain brand / model of tablet, I took that to mean that I might have an interest or agenda here. I agree with you that RIM is working to address the issues. But it is taking longer than they originally said and the market has moved quickly while RIM was hard at work. I don’t doubt their ability to deliver, but I do question their strategic execution. In any case, we’ll know in a few months what the market thinks! Thanks for the response.

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  4. Why buy this over an iPad or other tablet?…
    I answer with this
    Why buy an iPad over a PlayBook or other tablet?
    I bought a playbook without questioning the ipad

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    1. Steve, if the PlayBook meets your needs, then you clearly made the right choice. Tens of millions have chosen otherwise and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Thx!

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  5. Well, it amazing to me that the consumer market is driving decisions on how businesses use technology. Here it is that Apple who has directly said that enterprise is not their market, yet IT departments are being forced to come up with the solutions for their products and not Apple themselves.
    The most important factors for me as a representative of a small non-profit organization is not games, but can I make powerpoint presentations, can I make changes to my files on my computer that I have transfer to my phone, can I check emails and repond to them, can I see my website (including the flash elements)? Will it be reasonability cost effective? I think RIM at least is finally getting the picture as to what I’m trying to do. As of now I have a Blackberry 9650 currently runing OS6 that I paid $50 (upgrade price) 1-1/2 years ago and just bought a playbook 64GB for $299. I have used the playbook just for a day, and I am glad that I bought it. So really the selection of technology should be based on how it will be used and how much it will cost.
    Btw, I am wondering why I am constantly being informed on my Windows 7 PC by iTunes that I need to update in order to connect to iCloud when the fine print says that I need an iPhone with OS5?

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    1. “Here it is that Apple who has directly said that enterprise is not their market”

      Apple never said that, their new CEO said when he was their COO that they were surprised how quickly the iPad had been accepted in the enterprise environment and they were working hard to bring features to enable the iPad to better integrate with enterprise infrastructure. RIM on the other hand didn’t have the wit to include email. Maybe the thought thats was so 1990’s.

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  6. Are you certain that the Android run time was not present on the device you saw at CES or did the device just not have any android applications loaded to necessitate showing the Android boot screen? On my beta OS 2.0 PB, if I do not have any android apps installed on it, no one would know that my Playbook can run Android apps or not. If I install them, when I tap to run for the first time upon booting the Playbook, it will only then show the Android boot screen before loading the app.

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    1. I was told specifically by RIM that the apps they were showing were ported and not native Android apps.

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      1. Really surprised at this ignorant “bashing Fest”. Your headline is unfair, and your article does nothing to justify the headline. Your point on the iPad is only true if youknow the price. At the current prices the Playbook is the best device one can buy. Yes you cannot spend all day download useless apps, but for the main uses it is the best out there. It has the best browser by far, best sound – so best media experience. There is an Android player in 2 beta, and if you didnt know that and blame it on the staff at ces you are a joke. Its like I go to an Apple show and claim there are no cameras because the staff implied that. C’mmon, this i sthe MAIN feature coming in 2 and already well exposed by all forums.

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  7. It’s not a mistake for RIM to go all for a 10″ tablet. They need to go all in on tablets. There is still room for competitors to the iPad because let’s face it, the only Android tablet with any traction is the Kindle Fire.

    QNX is smoother than Android, multi-tasks better, and is more fun to use. If RIM can get a few major developers on board, they can compete. You don’t need to sell the most to succeed. Ask Apple and Pepsi…

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    1. Forget about Pepsi and Apple, we can ask RIM why they lost $489 million on the Playbook folly. Also comparing the Playbook to an Android tablet is like comparing dog turd to horse shit. At the end of the day we are still just talking about crap.

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      1. Some of the best tech has come from the worst of failures. I wouldn’t count our RIM or Android in the tablet market yet. They will find a way to differentiate themselves from Apple and the fight will be on.

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