Research In Motion is not having a good autumn. On the heels of a messaging outage that beset millions of BlackBerry smartphone users, the company says it will delay the updated version of its PlayBook tablet until next year.
In a posting late Tuesday on The Official BlackBerry Blog, Senior Vice President David J. Smith wrote that "we've made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, customers and end-users." He added that the expected delivery date was February.
Still No Native E-Mail
Released in April, the PlayBook received some praise but much criticism, in particular for its reliance on a coupling with a BlackBerry to perform basic functions such as e-mail. Additionally, the applications for the unique QNX operating system have been slow in coming, which prompted RIM to announce that the new, now-delayed OS would be able to run the more plentiful Android apps.
When it was launched, the company said that e-mail and other features would be added within 60 days, but that rollout also has been continually pushed back.
The company is now releasing a beta of OS 2.0 to developers, as well as the gold release of the native SDK for the PlayBook. A rollout of a series of closed beta 2.0 updates to selected enterprise customers will take place through the rest of the year.
But the delay in the new OS could be a major blow to the struggling tablet product. The PlayBook in its current form has no e-mail, calendar, or contact functionality, unless it is used in conjunction with a BlackBerry smartphone.
Smith said that 2.0 will include those features, as well as "new functionality that will allow your BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook to work together even better." Also promised: new ways to ease enterprise deployment, such as improved device manageability, a new video store, and dedicated shelf space within BlackBerry App World for a given enterprise's applications.
'Poor Software-Using Experience'
But BlackBerry Messenger will not be included in OS 2.0, and there is no indication when the popular app will appear on the PlayBook. Additionally, the beta does not yet include e-mail, contacts, calendar or the video store.
The new OS was supposed to be called BBX, but a company, Basis International, has filed in a federal court to block RIM. Basis said it owns the trademark to BBx, with a lower case x, which it uses for a set of tools and languages for writing multiple-OS apps.
Avi Greengart, principal analyst at Current Analysis, said PlayBook's sales "had stalled already," so it's not clear if the delay could make matters much worse. He said there were "reasonable sales numbers" at first, but now "nearly everyone who wants a PlayBook has one."
He added that RIM "never should have shipped the tablet in the first place" without native e-mail and other common functions. Greengart said there also is "a poor software-using experience, there aren't many apps, and the ones that exist are generally not very good." He also pointed out that the 7-inch form factor is not the most popular size for tablets.
Given those factors, does this new delay mean curtains for the PlayBook? Greengart said probably not, since "RIM has said they plan to continue to invest in this platform, and that they are absolutely committed to their tablet."
Posted: 2011-10-27 @ 5:57am PT
I have a Blackberry Playbook tablet and I love it. I still can't figure out why people are screaming for native email, I can check my email just fine (with gmail, hotmail, yahoo, and etc). As far as poor software-using experience - I think it has better software experience than iPad and most others even Android in most cases.