Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

Summary: Research in Motion is jumping into the tablet market with the BlackBerry PlayBook launching on April 19th. But this isn't any tablet, and RIM might have trouble selling this device to non-BlackBerry owners.

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Research in Motion is jumping into the tablet market with the BlackBerry PlayBook launching on April 19th. But this isn't any tablet, and RIM might have trouble selling this device to non-BlackBerry owners.

First, I'd like to say that I've seen this device in person, and while I'll haven't spent an extensive amount of time pouring over each and every feature, the first impression was a good one. The gestures are intuitive, making navigation very simple for any buyer. The BlackBerry Tablet OS (with Android app support hidden in there somewhere) is rich in graphics without being overwhelming.

Before even getting to why this tablet might be for BlackBerry owners only, it is definitely a business person's tablet more than an average consumer model. It's a 7-inch tablet, and when I first held it, the PlayBook immediately reminded me of the HP Slate. The PlayBook certainly plays the part of a consumer tablet better than the Slate (which seems to be the direction that RIM wants to take) with its more colorful and brighter OS along with the excellent 1080p HD video playback that looked spectacular on the capacitive multi-touch display.

Nevertheless, the 7-inch frame makes it ideal for a frequent business traveler, and that form factor is touted to be able to fit into inner jacket pockets. As nice as the display is, someone buying a tablet primarily for entertainment is going to want a slightly larger screen. Other useful features right from launch time that will be appealing to business-minded buyers include the same high security levels seen on BlackBerry smartphones along with rather improved mobile versions of Microsoft Word and Excel.

But the absolute biggest reason that will make this tablet unappealing to non-BlackBerry owners is the email situation. BlackBerry owners will not have a problem here as emails (along with contacts and calendars) are mirrored from a BlackBerry handheld to the PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection.

There is no native email app on the PlayBook - although RIM has promised that such an app will be issued in a future software update without specifying a time frame as to when we can expect this. Until then, non-BlackBerry owners will have to resort to using the browser to access email. Given that the Wi-Fi only version of the PlayBook is the sole model being released on Tuesday, that will present a problem for users who want to check their email on the tablet's browser when in transit. (The 4G edition will roll out this summer with Sprint.)

One has to ask, why not just install the client before shipping the tablet out in the first place? Supposedly there are technical reasons, but it's a big mistake to rush a tablet out without having an email client installed. How could a tablet have any chance of success without a native email client? That's one of the primary reasons of buying a tablet. It makes the basics convenient to access but you can get more work done than you could on a smartphone.

RIM can forget any dreams about beating Apple and the iPad 2 at this point. At least that email app supports email from multiple sources, including Gmail, Yahoo Mail and multiple Microsoft Exchange accounts. It should stand a chance against the Motorola Xoom given the way reviews have gone with that one, and also against the HTC Evo View 4G (which is the same size) once that is released this summer.

However, I will say that I think this is the ideal tablet for BlackBerry owners. It's obvious this tablet was designed for them, so why bother going with anything else? Not to mention there are several features to praise on this tablet besides the display, including HDMI connectivity and the 3-megapixel front-facing webcam that would be ideal for video chat and conferencing.

But RIM is still going to have a very difficult time starting this Tuesday in trying to sell the PlayBook to the mass market. Just as advertised on the product page, it is a "professional-grade" tablet. But the PlayBook is definitely a business tablet and only worth buying (at least right now) if you already have a BlackBerry.

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Topics: Mobility, Hardware, Mobile OS, BlackBerry

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48 comments
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  • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

    at $499? No.

    http://www.bestbuy.com/site/BlackBerry+-+PlayBook+Tablet+with+16GB+Memory/2265381.p?id=1218323427073&skuId=2265381&st=BlackBerry_Playbook_preorder&cp=1&lp=1
    Badgered
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      @Badgered
      Kia Ora IV
  • Price and email

    Funny the WiFi iPad sells just fine at $499 and it lacks Flash support, HD cameras, 1gb memory and has to be underclocked to save battery life.

    Native email supprot via 3rd party apps is already out.

    http://pepper.pk/early-bird/

    Seriously why is native email support some deal breaker for people, isn't the bulk of people using web based email now? GMail on Playbook is as good as the desktop version.
    MobileAdmin
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      Email, email, email, for crying out loud, I connected to this article via wifi on my laptop, which is how 80% of people connect...If I can use my BB Bold as a hotspot all the better...Additionally, if 80% of normal people connect with wifi, at home or when they are out...no issue...80% of all Ipads shipped were wifi only...so what is the beef.
      Ejeff
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      Exactly the point that most "geeks" just can not accept...most people connect via wifi...if they want 3G or 4G wait till july...it will have the Native email by them....
      Ejeff
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

        @Ejeff
        The geeks can accept it. They just don't want anyone else to. Afterall, if the Playbook is a success they will interpret that as a solid conclusion by the public that the Ipad is an inferior device purchased by inferior thinking people.
        ss1plus
    • 1gb ram...

      @MobileAdmin

      If the os on the device as well as the applications fail to require more than 512mb ram, what would be the point in putting in 1gb? This isn't a windows machine that hogs every last ounce of ram for no compelling reason...

      Oh yeah, show me a game that will consume all 512mb vram at 1024X768. Crysis won't even consume 512 at 1620X800 which the bulk of existing monitors still max out at...
      Eman101
      • Uh....multitasking

        @Eman101
        radleym
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

        @Radleym

        Again..... If the os is designed not to need more than 512 under any scenario (which apple probably tested) why do you need it?

        I've never run into amultitasking bottleneck on the ipad 1, let alone my new ipad 2 and I almost never shut down apps...

        What is the obsession with extra ram that just adds cost and energy consmption when not required?
        Eman101
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

        @Eman101

        Do you hit your home button on iOS? If so you are in Apples limits shutting down your App. It's basically suspended and stops working. Sure they all some to keep running and have a wonky notification system but its night and day between home button / double tap home button to what Playbook is doing.
        MobileAdmin
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

        @MobileAdmin
        You're right...

        Amazing how with 1GB of Ram, the playbook STILL constantly throws up errors (with the glowing red in the upper corners) warning of app failures because it has run out of memory.

        So you STILL have to manually shut down background apps that were doing nothing anyway, just to keep your foreground apps running.
        lelandhendrix@...
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

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    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      @MobileAdmin You must be talking about last year's version, and not the iPad released a month ago. (HD camera and no under clocking=iPad 2)
      lelandhendrix@...
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      @MobileAdmin
      It's not a dealbreaker. It's just a lyric to a song that Apple idiots love to sing. These knuckleheads actually fear the release of any product that will make their product look like a toy. So they're holding onto hope against all hope that others will listen to this ridiculous claim that native email is sooo important. My PC came with native email (Outlook) and native brower (IE). I trashed both of them and downloaded replacement apps in the form of Thunderbird and Firefox. Imagine that: having the ability to download an app to replace missing or less than stellar apps. Of course, the Apple geeks fear that most people will recognize this and so they'll bombard every blog out there to trash the release of the Playbook. They are seriously hoping that it fails as if their entire self-esteem will drop if it succeeds.
      ss1plus
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

        @ss1plus How ironic, you call others knuckleheads while posting such drivel.
        non-biased
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      @MobileAdmin Webmail doesn't 'ding' on arrival with mobile devices. Since BB's claim to fame is secure push email (and BBM), releasing a BB device sans native secure push email or BBM will be a huge mistake, IMO.
      Gritztastic
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      @MobileAdmin Most people I know don't use web based email, they prefer to look more professional with their own domain. Not that you can't check via webmail but why when you can use a native email client. Regardless of it it will affect most users I think it's going to be a big issue for them.
      non-biased
  • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

    Someone PLEASE explain to me why I care about "NO NATIVE E-Mail?" Since the Balckberry has FULL WEB ACCESS, I can access my e-mail the same way I do on my computer......just sign in.
    Flyerssignguy
    • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

      @Flyerssignguy I care because webmail doesn't tell me when I get a new email. I have to go in & specifically check it.<br><br>For my personal email...its not really important. For my business email though, no notifications is a deal-breaker, period, end of discussion.

      The PB is ONLY useful if you are in a business environment where you already carry a BlackBerry. Otherwise, it is an intentionally crippled product. And even to put it in perspective, my BB users here have ALL already gone out & bought/use iPads as their primary at-home business connectivity device. The PB, quite frankly, is too late to the game with too few features to be useful.
      samalie
      • RE: Can the BlackBerry PlayBook appeal to non-BB owners?

        @samalie

        "I care because webmail doesn't tell me when I get a new email. I have to go in & specifically check it."

        Umm this is exactly how iOS email client works. It's god awful in the notification department.
        MobileAdmin