Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

Summary: The upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook certainly knocks some features off the current iPad, but will it be enough to survive in the tablet market once the iPad 2 rolls off the production line?


The price tag for the benchmark of all tablets was clearly set by the entry level Apple iPad at $499.

But this set a problem for competitors and their own devices: either to have a smaller feature set and lower the price to level out as compensation for a seemingly lower powered device, or to apply a cheaper operating system like Android and maintain a similar build quality of the iPad, but with less of a marketing buzz.

Either way, the iPad is a tough cookie to crack, and so far every other competitor has pretty much bombed.


The PlayBook, however, holds the same price tag of $499 as the iPad - maybe more, maybe less, as it is still early days yet. But already this bodes well for any iPad competition by appearing to be of the same value and worth as the iPad.


The feature list at this point is relatively exhaustive and speculative, but already we have seen some one-upmanship on the iPad. Delivering some versions of the PlayBook with 4G LTE, it would be one of the first tablets on the market which takes advantage of the technology unlike the iPad 2 which has yet to emerge.

Plus the reported ability to run Android applications on the PlayBook will be met with surprise rather than relief. Just as the Nokia and Microsoft mobile application stores will merge, the PlayBook will get a greater spread of applications for a greater number of users, though it's not clear if the stores will merge or simply be 'available' on the BlackBerry platform.

However, unable to access corporate email without a tethered BlackBerry device will be a blow to enterprise users. On the other hand, it shouldn't have much effect on non-corporate users, who should still be able to access their Hotmail, Gmail and other web-based emails on the device.

It even gets Flash. Even the iPad doesn't have Flash.


With such a familiar BlackBerry brand behind it and a split younger generational following, it is entirely possible that Research in Motion's new tablet could serve as the first serious competitor to the iPad.

But is it enough?

But even with all this, I suspect that many will simply wait it out to see whether it becomes a popular device or not. Apple set the benchmark high, and whether Research in Motion can reach the bar, let alone raise it, there are too many variables at play at the moment.

However, Research in Motion have taken their time to consider what the iPad doesn't currently have, and capitalised upon it. The forward and rear facing camera, high definition video, Flash, the 4G and LTE technology for next-generation mobile broadband speeds, and the usual pizazz that would come with the BlackBerry like BlackBerry Messenger.

But if the iPad 2 gets there first, then the PlayBook could fall flat on its face. If the PlayBook is released before the iPad 2, then at least it has a fighting chance of making itself known before it inevitably gets pulled by the consumer market.

Do you think the PlayBook is a viable competitor to the iPad and tablet market?

Topics: BlackBerry, Hardware, iPad, Laptops, Mobility, Tablets, Wi-Fi

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Needs a release date

    RIM has a solid tablet it needs to firm up when it will come out and provide launch details. I got to use one the other day and it's very close to final OS. Very smooth and quick.

    Pretty much any corporation likely already has the Blackberry server and are deploying Blackberry so the lack of native corporate email isn't an issue. The ability to add Playbook directly to the BES is the issue. You should be able to. Still would be a nice perk to use Bridge with Blackberry as well tether for connectivity (WiFi model). Bridge has some advantages for corporate security.

    RIM stated anyone with the SDK could create an email client for other platforms including ActiveSync so I wouldn't be shocked to see something created.

    I will say the device was smaller then I thought as I'm used to iPad but it didn't take away from how the Playbook operated and the build quality was fantastic.
  • RIM has one big issue...

    If this thing is running Blackberry OS they better make the battery accessibly because you will certainly be doing the famous Blackberry Battery Pull Almost Daily!
    • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

      @Peter Perry This is running QNX (Unix like operating System) which has been around for @ least 20 years, We used it in a project back in the late 80's and I thought it was good back then.
    • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

      @Peter Perry They're using QNX... RIM bought the company a year or two ago. QNX is a very reliable OS, used for decades for embedded control projects, nuclear reactors, etc. Of course, IBM's OS/2 had a kernel stable enough to be the go-to OS for ATMs for years, but higher level things like Presentation Manager could lock the whole system up in weird and very stupid ways (just try opening a file via a file dialog when there are a dozen empty CD-ROM drives mounted on your OS/2 machine... v e r y l o n g t i m e o u t s t o w a i t f o r.

      But if the GUI layers are of similar quality (and QNX had these, too, apparently pretty good), it should be a nice piece of kit. QNX is sorta-kinda UNX/Linux redesigned with the a decade-and-a-half of additional computer science evolution. That's opposed to most *NIX projects, which all inherited some of the bad ideas as well as the very good ideas from the old Bell Labs UNIX.
    • Not another 'expert'

      @Peter Perry Come on.... You do talk rubbish mate. As a Blackberry veteren and user of most models (my line of work) and now on a fantastic, yes I did say FANTASTIC Torch I can tell you I've rarely taken the battery out. And most of the times I've advised anyone to take the battery out is when they roam abroad ad it's the quickest way of pickking up another network.

      In summary: You've been reading too many blogs and not enough hard facts.

      Personally I can't wait to get my hands on one of the books. Tried the iPad but it's too big for work and the corporate app on it is a pain. Password every time you hop from corporate app to another!!!! Try it.. its pants. Torch for me; and looking forward to mooching one f these too.
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    Yes, simply because I have a work BB Bold on BES and hope to tether the PlayBook using my work's ATT tether plan. All of my work and personal email accounts are already on the Bold, so I believe I'll have access to them and the rest of Outlook on the PlayBook. I'll buy it at $500.

    I don't think the office IT will be ready for PlayBooks on the BES for over a year (if ever), so I hope I can just tether or use wifi.

    Access to the Android applications is a huge plus for me.
  • Eh?

    '...relatively exhaustive and speculative'
    WTF does this mean? How can it be exhaustive but speculative ie unknown. If it's speculative - it's just vapourware because it's conjecture. Someone's been reading the press release and swallowed it whole.
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    I saw one about three weeks ago -- the co-CEO demoed it for me. I am impressed by the screen quality and the super multi-tasking ability. I don't know what I'd do about email (I have a Droid X, not a Blackberry), but I guess we'll figure it out.
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    I'm waiting with the adage "the most patient dog eats the fatest bone" at the back of my mind. I was burnt getting the Storm 1 too early. NEVER AGAIN!
    • Internet is rubbish on most Blackberries...

      @adesugba@... My biggest beef is that the Internet experience was always total rubbish, email is great though. Having said that the Torch is superb, and does all I want; Internet is great and not before time. Hopefully the playbook will build on that, and hopefully RIM will stop releasing hundreds of models. I like the fact an iphone3 is an iphone3... consider a BB Curve. WTF model is it? It could be anything from basic, old 3Gg, non 3G. RIM need to release less models and focus on quality kit with a future... fingers crossed on this.
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    Is it competitive enough? That's a good question and I think it depends on a number of factors. Access to android apps would certainly help but I would not expect that to be anything that is available at launch. Native apps are the most important and RIM needs desperately to attract as many developers as possible and use it's own internal resources (TAT, Gist etc..) to produce some truly compelling exclusive stuff for the playbook.

    They also need to stay competitive with their phones in order for the playbook to be successful. They really need to get up to par on large touch screen phones and modern components in their whole line up. If the Storm 3, Bold Touch and Curve touch do not arrive until late this year it will definitely impact playbook sales.

    Also, will RIM please answer once and for all if the darn thing has GPS or not? It's the perfect size tablet to replace multiple other devices such as eReader and stand alone GPS. They need to state definitively that the playbook does not rely on a tethered blackberry phone for GPS. RIM being on the acquisitions trail that they have been on for the last year should take a page out of Nokia's book and buy a mapping company and develop something in house to compete with Google Maps and Ovi (or is it Nokia?) Maps.

    Plus, if the playbook is even moderately successful they must follow up QUICKLY with two more size options. A 4" smart phone running the new OS and a 10.1" to compete with the rest of the tablet market. They can't expect the single 7" offering to compete for very long in this rapidly developing market and they need to pick up the pace. If they fall two steps behind like in the smart phone market they will never get the second chance they need to recover in the tablet market. It's either 100% commitment to putting out the very best products or don't even bother getting in the game at all.
    • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?


    • Hopefully they've been listening - well said.

      @SuperionMaximus + 1
  • Competitive enough? It's not competitive at all...

    Back ported Roid apps... Gee.. How lovely... So it will run any Malware infested already buggy Roid App I care to run??? Emulated, back ported, rehashed, etc... That means slow and unreliable and a very bad user experience.. So in reality, there are very few apps if any...

    Gotta teather it to a crackberry??? Might as well not bother with email at all. My iPad connects to my exchange server, yahoo mail, and gmail flawlessly.

    And QNX... This isn't the same QNX that has been around for 20 years... The kernel has changed 4 times... So in reality, this is the QNX that has been around for 6 years and recent was bought out by Rim and then bastardized for Blackberry...

    7" screen compared to a 10" screen... Some people say this is no big deal, but in perspective it is the comparrison of a 50" screen compared to a 35" screen. Just like with Microsoft, there is no WOW. It has zero capability to impress.

    In order to compete, Rim would need to throw these out the door for $200.00 USD. At that price, people might (might being the key word) want them... None of the high end professionals who use iPads will ever want them, but some might.

    Being that Rim is not going to sell them for $200.00, I would say DOA... Rim shouldn't of wasted their time with a tablet.
    • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

      Apparently, your iPad does one thing no other tablet will ever have the ability to do: fit completely up your dumb ass!
      • Do you mean...

        @Varyant86 <br><br>Do you mean my Eh hole? What the fook you are talking aboot? Eh... <br><br>Wow Varyant86.. you sure shut off my water... Now climb up my Eh hole and read the meter...<br><br>Speaking of dirty cracks.. How is your dear ol mum... LOL<br><br>Seriously Varyant86, that was as intelligent and witty a retort as, "oh yeah?"
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    Apparently, your iPad does one thing no other tablet will ever have the ability to do: fit completely up your dumb ass!
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    If it's $500 or so, I will buy one. I don't go anywhere without my Blackberry Bold and the Playbook will be a great enhancement. I avoid any product that Apple produces because I won't support the Vendor Lock-In & Stupid limitations that they almost always have. I don't need Steve Jobs telling me what is okay to do and what isn't okay. Avoiding iTunes is of great importance.

    I am still looking for a $300 Android tablet for the masses though that has a USB and hopefully SD Card slot for viewing pictures I just took with my digital camera.
    John Hanks
  • RE: Is the BlackBerry PlayBook competitive enough?

    RIM is genius with the tethering... it will sell more phones for them as well. I already love my crackberry, and will definitely buy a playbook... they just need to hurry up and launch the damn thing already.
    I won't consider apple products, not interested in apple telling me what I can and can't do, ipod is 3-4 times the money of any other decent mp3 player, RIM is riding on the coat tails of this, I think they're all over priced.