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

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.

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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, Collaboration, Laptops, Mobile OS, Mobility, BlackBerry, Tablets

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45 comments
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  • Clearly they're figuring every tablet buyer will already have one of their

    handheld product and be able (or prefer) to use that for email in the short term. What they should have figured was to concentrate on their efforts on their floundering mobile handheld space to stem the tide of consumers leaving RIM completely. They already have no play here the future of tablets. No matter what they do they are going to see Win8 tablets grab 90%, ipads 8%, android tablets 1.2%, and themselves and hp/webos tablets fighting eachother for that last 0.8%. Get out and focus on coming up with a way to stop your mobile handset share from hitting single digits but because you'll be there shortly if you dont do something. And by something I dont mean giving brutal dictatorships access to your clients emails/txts.
    Johnny Vegas
    • ROTFLMAO!!!!

      @Johnny Vegas

      Win8 Tablets??? BwaHaHaHaHaHa!!!! OMG!!! Whew!!!! Dude... That was hysterical.... Win 8 tablets grow 90%... HaHaHaHaHaHa!!! Oh Stop HaHaHaHaHa!!!! My Sides are starting to hurt!!! HaHaHaHaHaHa!!!!
      i8thecat
    • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

      @Johnny Vegas What are we basing this on? Do we have ANY idea what Windows 8 Tablets will be like? (I'd imagine pretty horrible, the needs of desktop/laptops are utterly different to iPad-a-likes... but who knows, maybe Microsoft can square that circle).

      And aren't we now talking about a product due 2013?! At what mythical time are you thinking they'll get 90% market share? 2015? 2016? Later?

      I'm assuming you don't think Apple, Google et al will just "stand still" - right? You're assuming none of them will have significant new innovation in this space? What's that based on?
      jeremychappell
    • Wait, what?

      @Johnny Vegas Win 8 tablets getting 90% of the market? Dude you are on some seriously good sh1t... got any to spare?
      athynz
    • They do have an email client

      @Johnny Vegas <br>The PlayBook looks to be an awesome device, and now that they have an email client coming out for it, it's looking even better!!!<br><br>A company called Pepper.pk has developed Early Bird, an email client for the PlayBook!<br><br><a href="http://pepper.pk/early-bird/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://pepper.pk/early-bird/</a>
      nexus120
  • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

    We knew this already!

    Essentially QNX (Tablet) isn't finished. Not even close. There is no proper SDK. The Android support is via a VM, a heavy messy proposition at best. The Android support is Gingerbread only, and won't have the Android Marketplace (instead applications can be added via some kind of RIM marketplace). To be clear, the Android compatibility on this thing is a huge stinking pile of suck. Why bother? Well there's no SDK, so no apps. They know they need lots of apps (as a feature checkbox) so this gives them this. They refer to this as the need for "apps tonnage" [sic], a clear "never mind the quality, feel the width" if ever I heard it.

    The PlayBook will use a RIM Blackberry smartphone for email.

    If ever there was a product that shouldn't be inflicted upon the world this is that product.
    jeremychappell
    • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

      @jeremychappell "Android support is via a VM" and that's somehow a bad thing? Whereas on android phones themselves? Do you even know what "Dalvik" is?
      gwalachmai
  • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

    Zack Whittaker,<br><br>I would like to commend you on your decision to jump on the bandwagon that the majority of "journalists" have jumped on. Your weightless facts are impeccable. <br><br>If there is one thing that's true, it's that Apple's marketing scheme has definitely worked on journalists. They do nothing but repeat the same garbage over and over.<br><br>Until you use the Playbook, please, stop regurgitating what Steve Jobs has told you.<br><br>Ps-I even own a MacBook, but I am still over the fact that this is continually repeated. It's annoying and it's not based on anything. RIM isn't going anywhere and it's been reported time and time again that they are picking up in the consumer market, particularly young people.
    WhateverAZ
    • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

      @WhateverAZ <br>You are dreaming. PlayBook running Android under VM and supporting Flash is a guarantee for poor battery life, maybe 4 hours. That sucks even more than the lack of email client...

      The OS they are using was designed to run in cars where battery life is not an issue. In contrast, iOS was designed specifically for superior battery life...
      prof123
      • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

        @prof123 ....
        you are making the same negative assumption that because flash is present on a device its going to be used 100% of the time.
        deaf_e_kate
      • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

        @prof123 You are misinformed. First, Android devices themselves run Android apps in a VM on a Unix environment. So I don't see how a VM on QNX would be much different. It should run similar to an Android device, but inefficient compared to a natively designed QNX application.

        As for Flash & battery life---Flash (AIR) support runs as a server that plugs directly into the QNX kernel, whereas on iOS it would pass through 3 abstraction layers. The issue isn't that Flash is CPU intensive, it's with the approach iOS takes to support flash. If Apple really wanted to, they could've made very good use of Flash products by building it from the ground-up with this support instead of making it an afterthought.

        Second, QNX operating system was not designed 'for cars', while it is used in pretty much every car manufacturer for their telematics (i.e. deploying airbags, ABS brakes, etc.) systems, and infotainment (GPS, satellite radio, etc.) systems, the QNX microkernel (not a hybrid or monolithic kernel) was designed for efficency and stability, and used in a huge number of places other than cars (assembly lines, nasa space shuttles, unmanned military aircrafts, casino gambling machines, etc.)

        The QNX neutrino microkernel is only 100,000 lines of code and supports any number of processors. Whereas WinCE (hybrid kernel) is 3,900,000 lines of code and iOS's XNU (hybrid kernel) is 9,000,000 lines of code. Quite inefficent in comparison.
        NO_CARRIER
  • a gamble

    I suppose they are gambling here. How much damage could it do versus how much extra profit could they make by releasing early. If they have a good app service then maybe someone else will create programs good enough that there future native versions won't be needed anyway.
    DarthCyclist
    • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

      @DarthCyclist
      That would work a year ago, before the iPad came along...
      prof123
      • Ummmm RIM, just to let you know, you are doing it wrong.

        @prof123 I agree. Having a good app service now is getting in kind of late in the game. Going up against the iOS app store and the Android app store, not too mention the new Amazon app market place is going to be a losing battle.

        RIM needs to pull a rabbit out of their hat to come out of this year alive, though I can't stand BB devices so I hope they crash and burn in a magnificent fiery blaze.
        Bates_
  • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

    The Playbook doesn't "need" apps, it'll get over a millon just by fully supporting Adobe Flash and AIR. Something iPad users will never get...
    Native email support is only a matter of time, if anything RIM is just making sure they take their time with stuff that really matters: security and reliability.
    SinfoCOMAR
    • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

      @SinfoCOMAR So not the SDK, not email (why do people by RIM devices? "Email")...

      This is a product rushed to market, it won't look good and will probably ruin its reputation forever. Better to get the product actually finished rather than "rush" to get their "iPad-killer" (some hope in this state) to market.

      Compare this with HP's iPad response.
      jeremychappell
      • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

        @jeremychappell
        Don't know about others, I buy RIM devices/services because:
        *They work as advertised.
        *They are reliable and secure.
        *I'm not obligated to use the apps approved by the manufacturer (no need to jailbreaks).
        *They are built with suitability to task in mind: I still can't believe Apple left Flash out on purpose. I'd buy a tablet mainly for browsing on the go with a bigger screen than that on my cellphone. The Ipads just don't cut it because they don't support the technologies that make web browsing great. Any way, just my opinion. Cheers!
        SinfoCOMAR
      • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

        @SinfoCOMAR You know there is no Android Marketplace don't you? RIM have their own proprietary version for Android apps on the PlayBook - so it fails: "*I'm not obligated to use the apps approved by the manufacturer (no need to jailbreaks)." anyway.

        I can't really see the VM being totally reliable, given how rushed the whole thing is... Maybe you'll be more willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

        We also know that the performance of the VM is going to leave a lot to be desired (this is a resource limited system, and we all know that VMs work far better with more RAM).

        Flash support has it's own downsides. Security is a big one. If you have a Flash player then the attack foot print is far larger. Look at how Google's desktop browser goes to great lengths to isolate Flash (for this very reason). On something as resource strapped as a iPad-like Tablet such isolation is too much of a resource hog (before you even think about Flash itself). Apple have worked very hard to reduce the attack footprint of iOS, so it doesn't need AntiVirus. Google have taken the approach of "OK, let people make AntiVirus software". But again, is this the best choice of a system with such limited resources?

        On iOS devices you really don't miss Flash that much - mostly because content creators have added code to their sites that deliver alternative content when they encounter iOS. Sure, this might seem rather backwards, but as an end user does it really matter?

        As someone who has created Flash content, I can tell you, Flash does indeed represent a "blank cheque", and you can burn through a lot of processor time (battery on a mobile device) and bandwidth (data, which again is limited on mobile devices with fixed data plans).

        I think Flash is to the iPad as a Floppy Disk was to the iMac; We'll get over it.
        jeremychappell
      • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

        @jeremychappell To be fair, iPhone did not have an SDK until over a year after launch, and a lot of core services were not available at launch either. Even the app store was not available for a long time while Palm and RIM had app stores available. And look at the remarkable success of the iPhone still---it was successful without apps and third party development because it was simply a superior user experience compared to anything else at the time.<br><br>Also to repeat something I posted earlier. (in response to your comment at the bottom of this thread) As for android software running on a VM on the Playbook---Android software also runs on a VM on android devices. (it's actually a unix environment). In theory, time will tell for sure---android software should run quite similar to on actual android devices, but not even close to as efficient as software developed for any of QNX's native languages which do not have to go through that extra layer.
        NO_CARRIER
      • RE: RIM launching PlayBook without native email client; Shoots itself in both feet

        @jeremychappell You keep responding to all these blog posts about the Playbook citing the same misinformation over and over again. There is nothing wrong with being 'for' or 'against' any product, everyone is entitled to their opinion---but if you have arguments to make for others to read (for or against), PLEASE make sure your points are accurate, otherwise you will continue to lose credibility by spreading misinformation.
        NO_CARRIER