BlackBerry PlayBook: Looks Good on Paper, But…

Published on February 2, 2011
by John Paczkowski

The PlayBook’s hardware specs might beat anything on the market, its QNX OS might be rock solid and its “Web fidelity” might outshine that of the iPad, but Research in Motion’s forthcoming “professional tablet” will be poorly received when it finally ships. This according to Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair, who believes the device to be signifigantly flawed and claims it will be “dead on arrival.”

A scathing appraisal, but Blair has his reasons.

  • The PlayBook’s lack of native calendar and email applications, a core RIM strength that has oddly been left out of the device’s first iteration.
  • The need to tether it to a BlackBerry to access those applications, a feature intended to appeal to enterprise by obviating the need for additional security measures, but one that will inevitably alientate non-BlackBerry users.
  • A profound lack of applications and a sub-par application storefront.
  • No easy mechanism for content delivery and consumption. “How will users get music or movies on there?” Blair asks. “Through the BlackBerry Desktop download manager? Well, we have tried this and it isn’t easy.”
  • (Considered drag-and-drop, Brian? Not the most elegant solution, I know, but a solution nonetheless).

These are the makings of a sharply inferior tablet, Blair argues. To launch it in a market alongside the likes of the iPad and its successor, as well as with forthcoming offerings from HP’s Palm unit and Motorola, is folly.

“The PlayBook demo impresses many people, including many tech writers, and we believe it’s because of the outstanding multitasking capability that is showcased in a coverflow manner,” Blair concludes. “This slickly shows apps running in the background while a main app runs in the foreground. While we agree this is a leap over what other tablet operating systems can do, we see it as a visual ‘smoke and mirrors’ because of the aforementioned shortfalls in getting content onto the device, offering limited applications, and excluding a native email application. In short, the PlayBook’s screen and hardware specs and multitasking capability look excellent on paper, but without the other pieces to the puzzle, it feels in many ways like an expensive web browser.”

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