PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

Summary: Now that Flash has had its day in the sun, the PlayBook may now have a chance to quietly sail off into the deathly sunset.


Research in Motion plans to continue supporting Adobe Flash, days after it emerged that the platform was not only on its last legs, but that it was to be taken round the back of the stable and beaten over the head with a rusty spade.

In a statement on the company's corporate blog, the BlackBerry maker said:

"Earlier today, Adobe announced plans to stop investing in Flash® for mobile browsing, and focus more efforts on HTML5. As an Adobe source code licensee, we will continue to work on and release our own implementations, and are looking forward to including Flash 11.1 for the BlackBerry PlayBook."

At roughly 10am this morning, a collective face-palm slapping sound was heard across the United States and Canada.

(Source: Flickr, CC)

It is as though the BlackBerry maker is purposefully trying to continually do things to deliberately lower its stock price. I'm serious; is this some game show that I'm not aware of, where contenders win a vacation to the Bahamas if they successfully cripple their company within the space of a year?

The PlayBook has hardly been the most popular tablet the market has seen in recent years. In fact, come Christmas, I would place money that out of the 'major players', including Samsung, Motorola, and obviously Apple, that Research in Motion's tablet will still come bottom of the pile.

But to continue to support an already dead platform on a dying tablet is like throwing salt in the wound of an already squashed slug.

It's not the best analogy I should have come out with, but you get the idea.

Granted, the PlayBook does support HTML5, at least giving the tablet a break from a major software update that would be necessary to effectively replace the world's most used web plug-in. It saves on a lot of headaches down the line, which from the perspective of future proofing was not a far off move.

The Ontario-based company will have the ability to continue to develop Flash on its own moving forward, keeping a 'healthy' following of developers interested and supported -- that is, if you considered the aforementioned slug analogy to be healthy.

The PlayBook never really stood a chance, stood in line like the nerdy, glasses-wearing kid next to its prom-queen older sister. Even when the PlayBook had a chance to shine, in its secure emailing client that emulated the BlackBerry enterprise encryption, the tablet launched without it. In effect, its most favourable feature was left behind its launch.

But the linchpin to the PlayBook has always been its less than desirable advertising.

Nearly all of the company's advertising and marketing efforts have been on the fact the PlayBook, unlike the iPad, as the supreme competitor to all other tablets on the market, will support Flash-based content. Though it still will, and Flash will not suddenly drop off the edge of the planet in the next few months, the BlackBerry maker is going to have to think of a brand new marketing strategy.

At least now Research in Motion can advertise the PlayBook as something it should have been marketed as a long way back: "The most expensive paperweight you never needed in the first place".

Rant over.


Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility, BlackBerry, Software Development, Tablets

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  • Android tablets are also paperweights

    They are very good at keeping the weight on miles of shelves in warehouses around the world.

    There is only 1 successful tablet. There will only ever be 1 successful tablet. Apple is too strong, too ruthless to ever lose the tablet market. They buy their supplies for a fraction of what everyone else can. They have the iTunes ecosystem and unless an anti-trust agency forces Apple to open up access to iTunes like they forced MS to open up access to Active Directory, that iTunes ecosystem is very effective at opening up brand new markets and locking customers in. No one can compete with this.

    This is a sick market. We all lose.
    • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

      @toddybottom Yawn!
      • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

        @browser. +1

        toddybottom - you're starting to sound like Lovie - whiny and boring.
    • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?


      Yet Apple's iTunes store is also desperately trying to stop the march of HTML 5. Apple cleverly prevented the use of autoplay in HTML 5 so complex multimedia apps will not function on iOS. They do function however, if you wrap the HTML 5 module in a WebView using Apple's ancient development system and their weird C variation. The module then functions the same, but you can only download it from iTunes.

      The one thing that HTML 5 has over most of the crappy mobile apps is that it doesn't have to be downloaded from an app store - and that's what Apple is trying to prevent. Apple's deliberate corruption of HTML 5 is aimed at prevented HTML 5 apps competing with their closed app store.

      This is not theoreticla, by the way. I recently published an interactive eLearning module for public safety information in HTML that uses either Flash or HTML 5 for synchronised voice-over and video. The only way Apple users could see that web app as intended was to for me to become an Apple developer, wrap it in a Webview and publish it free in the iTunes store.

      I'm afraid Apple is very, very afraid of HTML 5.
      • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

        Indeed. That's why when the iPhone came out it only supported html apps. And Apple released webkit, which supports html5, into open source and webkit is used by almost all mobile browsers.

        Then apple allows you to put an shortcut to any html app on the desktop so it looks like an app. And Apple made a change so this shortcut runs as fast as it does in a browser. In fact, they open a bug(recently addressed) doing this.

        And finally, Steve Jobs said that if you don't like the App store, make it a web app and you "don't have to pay us anything."

        If that is fear, I hate to see what happens when Apple likes something.
  • Nope

    As has been stated ad-nauseum, Air is continuing on. No real news here...
  • Bad headline

    "PlayBook has a Flash-filled future" implies: PlayBook has a future and Flash will be part of that future.
    PlayBook's only future is as a footnote in the "Tablet Wars".
    • I like your post

      @davebarnes <br>Yet another competitor killed by Apple. Apple is killing the competition left and right. I wouldn't call it a war. It is more of a one sided slaughter.
      • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?


        Try and remember that BB entered the market AFTER the iPad so BB killed themselves by being unable to enter and compete in an established market.

        I would have agreed with your statement if it was the other way around...that is if Apple had entered the market and killed off BB but that never happenned.
      • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

        I see, one huge slaughter machine from Apple named iPad came to the ring, and it's turn on and ready to slaught everything.
        Then a grup of fighters from anywhere with anyname came to the ring (Android), some of them slaught on site (you never heard them), some quite big enough to stand till now (Samsung), while some to small to slaught (very very very cheap Chinesse tablet).
        Then come one fighter from RIM name PlayBook, which got slaught on site.
        Then come another fighter from HP name Touchpad, which got slaught on site too.
        Who can defeat that slaughter machine ???
  • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

    Playbook and QNX/BBX will run HTML 5.0---I don't get how people can write this drib----
    • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?


      I completely agree. It'd be cool if people writing these shitty articles actually had and used the technology they talk about. Writing a blog item on an ipad is the extent they use an iPad 2 and somehow it's extrapolated that the Playbook is dead and is making the wrong decision. As a side note, I only have iMacs and Macbook pro's in my office so yes I'm allowed to say the following.

      The back end R & D being put into the BBX / QNX platform will be top notch and it's nice to hear that the Playbook will support essentially everything, unlike Apple. As for sales, the Playbook won't beat out the iPad b/c of it's main focus on the general person consumer wanting the cool gadget with apps (totally over used I know). The Playbook will however have it's place in enterprise, small business (such as myself), and others who like BB's and the build quality along with the keyboard will continue to support anything RIM puts out.

      As for the general consumer, I think if people stop reading this nonsense that RIM is out to lunch and actually try some of the new stuff RIM is enabling on their phones, like BBM music (which I use and love), and the BB App store coming along nicely with useful productivity apps, people like this writer would finally write a balanced article instead of as @pfcsystems would say "drib..."
    • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

      @pfcsystems Agreed, what a pathetic article. My only question is why I keep reading stuff from the Apple boot lickers at zdnet.
  • Best thing to happen to &quot;Flash Player Mobile&quot;

    This is without a doubt the best thing that could have happened to "Flash Player Mobile".

    For too long now Adobe has controlled the Flash Player and it has been slow to reach it's full potential.

    With other companies (like RIM) being able to develop and distribute their version of "Flash Player Mobile", it will only become better, faster.

    This is a great time to be an Actionscript developer.
    • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

      @americancuervo, you have a good sense of humor.
      • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

        @melgross, realistic actually.
  • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

    It's probably because they keep hearing how Flash is so important from the Android users. And are dumb enough to believe it's true so are betting that if they are the only ones left supporting flash then all those Android users who say Flash is so essential will choose their tablet.
  • The RIM Hate

    RIM has access to the desktop code and are a licensee of it. Flash will be around in 2012, 2013, 2014 and so on. The tools are out there and people can choose to develop Flash based content forever if they choose to do so. It will be interesting to see if web sites migrate to HTML 5 are just take their time.

    I wish ZDNet just stopped reporting on RIM. We get it. Your hate them. You don't like their products. Zack is stuck on contract with a Curve.

    BBX is far from dying. It's still being developed. The BBX smartphones are on track, the Playbook 2.0 is still being worked on. The only thing happening is article after article slamming RIM. Too bad they keep making money and regardless of the stock price will still be around much to all the Apple fanboys dismay.
    • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?

      @MobileAdmin To be honest, I'd be lost without my Bold (9900, for the record). It's slow and sluggish, but it sends BES email, so I'm happy.
      • RE: PlayBook has a Flash-filled future; RIM's worst decision to date?


        Congrats on upgrading. The 9900 if far from slow / sluggish. Where do you see that. I found running it through desktop manager and dumping all the Apps you don't use helps. Unsure on your carrier but the latest OS is very snappy and has NFC enabled.

        I'm as frustrated with RIM as anyone and their pace of evolution is criminal. I think they have a sound plan / vision just unsure they have time to execute it.