RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

Summary:The BlackBerry PlayBook will launch without a native email application - arguably the key feature to BlackBerry's success.

I've been pretty positive about the BlackBerry tablet up until now. I even defended the entire BlackBerry brand a few days ago even when analysts and journalists were hammering down a fiery reign of molten arse vengeance upon Research in Motion, the enterprise-class smartphone and tablet manufacturer.

But according to an internal Verizon document, the BlackBerry PlayBook could lack a native, core email application at launch, which may well be the final nail in the ever increasingly heavy coffin.

Page 5 has it all, saying:

"In a future software update for the BlackBerry PlayBook, we will also provide native e-mail, calendar, and contact apps for those customers who prefer to have these apps directly on the tablet."

However, while there may be no respite for those longing for out of the box email functionality, there could well be a good reason why the BlackBerry PlayBook will lack a significant application to the device.

According to CrackBerry:

"The reality of the matter is that RIM simply does not yet have this functionality ready for the new QNX operating system in the way they want to roll it out (and trust that it's secure), and with the usage case of the tablet being different from that of a smartphone, RIM figured it wasn't necessary to wait for it to go live in order to get PlayBook sales rolling."

In short, Research in Motion is pushing the release of the tablet out even though a core product feature may not launch with the device at all. It's just a shame the decision wasn't made over a month ago to predate the iPad 2 release, which would have given the tablet a chance to claw at least some of the marketshare.

It seems that the BlackBerry Network Operations Center (NOC), which keeps the email, contacts and calendars ticking over and the enterprise security and reliability features intact, cannot 'connect' entirely with the QNX-based operating system that runs on the PlayBook.

Of course, Gmail and Hotmail, and other cloud based email applications will be accessible using the browser which will be in-built into the tablet upon release, but not through a preinstalled application.

That, apparently, will come later.

But granted, the silver lining is that the BlackBerry smartphone and the BlackBerry PlayBook are not the same device, and one would expect the smartphone to be always on and plugged into the email mainframe as it is. The PlayBook is a complimentary device to the smartphone and probably always will be.

It's as if Research in Motion wants you to use the smartphone more than the tablet.

Nevertheless, this will annoy a great number of prospective consumers of the tablet. But rest assured, though the original iPhone launched without an App Store application, and Windows Phone 7 was let loose in the wild without cut, copy and paste functionality, Research in Motion will bring out the email application after the launch - probably in time for the PlayBook 4G, CrackBerry reckons.

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Topics: Hardware, BlackBerry, Collaboration, Laptops, Mobile OS, Mobility, Tablets

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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