RIM pushes back major PlayBook update

The second major version of Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet operating system has been pushed back to February, and will launch without a BlackBerry Messenger app.Although a beta version of PlayBook OS 2.

The second major version of Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet operating system has been pushed back to February, and will launch without a BlackBerry Messenger app.

Although a beta version of PlayBook OS 2.0 came out last week, RIM said on Tuesday that it needed more time to make sure the new version works fully. According to David Smith, senior vice president of the PlayBook division, not including a native version of BBM will help make that happen.

PlayBook OS 2.0 was originally scheduled to come out this month.

"As much as we'd love to have it in your hands today, we've made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users," Smith said in a blog post. "And here's what we're doing to accomplish that. First off, we have decided to defer the inclusion of the BBM application to a subsequent BlackBerry PlayBook OS release."

"We are committed to developing [a BBM product] that fully delivers on the powerful, push based messaging capabilities recognised today by BlackBerry users around the world and we're still working on it," Smith continued. "In the meantime, BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to continue to use BlackBerry Bridge to securely access BlackBerry Messenger on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet's high-resolution display."

The PlayBook, which is up against not only the market-leading iPad 2 but also a host of Android-based rivals, has not been a resounding success. RIM only shipped around a third as many as it hoped to during its second fiscal quarter, hitting the company's profits.

Part of the problem is the fact that the tablet has not provided the enterprise-friendliness that many had hoped for. The first iteration of the PlayBook OS does not do email and calendaring on its own, relying instead on a connection with a BlackBerry smartphone to make this happen. It does not support BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). The second version of the OS is supposed to fix this.

PlayBook OS 2.0 will be based on the BBX operating system, formerly known as QNX, which will run in common across RIM's tablets and BlackBerry smartphones. The developer beta of PlayBook OS 2.0 came out at BlackBerry DevCon Americas along with the gold release of the PlayBook native SDK.

"In the following months, the developer kit will be updated with the full Cascades animation and UI engine that was first demonstrated at BlackBerry DevCon," Smith wrote. "We expect that the developer beta will generate thousands of new applications for BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0."

Smith noted that RIM would soon start closed beta tests of PlayBook OS 2.0 with "select enterprise customers" from the company's Early Adopter Program.

"For the enterprise, we're addressing many barriers to tablet adoption, including device manageability and enterprise application deployment. Enterprises will uniquely have the ability to manage tablets from a centralised server… plus BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 will provide dedicated shelf space inside the BlackBerry App World storefront to make approved enterprise applications easily available to an organisation's end users," Smith promised.


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