RIM (Finally) Adds Email to PlayBook

Carl Weinschenk
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15 Essential BlackBerry Apps

Some of the most popular apps in BlackBerry App World to help you through your day.

One of the more dramatic ongoing mobile tech stories is the fate of Research In Motion. The company's BlackBerry, of course, deserves a lot of the credit for making the smartphone era what it has evolved into now. However, the iconic device and the company that made it are in danger of being left behind.

 

The company is struggling. The co-CEOs have been replaced by Thorsten Heins. The other factor is that the BlackBerry 10, the new OS for its smartphone, is running late.

This week, the company corrected what many consider to be a major faux pas: It introduced an email application to the PlayBook tablet. It always was ironic that the PlayBook didn't have native email, since that is the application upon which RIM built its reputation. Originally - to the consternation and in some cases amusement of observers - email was only available on the device through a connection to a BlackBerry smartphone.


The New York Times story on the upgrade said that the PlayBook 2.0 operating system also will be able to run some Android apps as well and, through a wireless interface, use the BlackBerry keyboard.

Clearly, this isn't enough to turn RIM's fortunes around. For one thing, the reviews are anything but stellar (One headline: "Sorry, RIM: The PlayBook Still Sucks"). Another review, at Forbes, bemoans the absence of BlackBerry Messenger and the general slowness with which things are happening:

However, just like its predecessor, the new upgrade lacks BBM functionality as well as integration with the company's enterprise server software. This, we believe, is a huge gaping hole in the company's Playbook software that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Given the amount of time the company has taken to launch this upgrade (Playbook was launched in April with the next upgrade scheduled for October), we expected this version to finally provide all the above mentioned functionality that should have actually been present in the original version.

The company certainly won't find salvation from the PlayBook 2.0. Seen in a vacuum, it is a good addition. The initial tablet introduction, sans email, is old news and cannot be undone. Rectifying it was necessary. And it still is too early to tell whether Heins will succeed or fail. An important first test will be the timing of the BlackBerry 10 introduction. The company should do so as soon as possible.

All is not lost for BlackBerry. It still enjoys significant market share. Of course, things never will be the way they were before the explosion of the iPad, the iPhone and Android. But the market continues to grow and, if BlackBerry ups its game, there is no reason that it can't right the ship and continue to grow as well.



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Feb 23, 2012 6:24 AM Jon Jon  says:

I have three ipad's at my house and one playbook that I use for work since my company will only support blackberry products.  I used to tell people that if you have a blackberry, and want to use your tablet for work, then the Playbook is good.  If you want an app-rich environment, or you don't have a blackberry phone, then the ipad is for you.  With the OS 2.0 release, I am firmly onboard with the Playbook.  It is a great little tablet with better functionality than the ipad.  It is easier to use, and has better native features.  The problem, of course, is the lack of apps.  This is changing, but until you can get the basic Netflix and Skype apps, it will be a hard sell to cut into apple's market.  The product itself, however, is the best I've used.

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Feb 23, 2012 6:27 AM Carl Weinschenk Carl Weinschenk  says: in response to Jon

Jon, thanks for commenting. That sounds like a very even-handed and fair assessment. It will be interesting to see how the BlackBerry drama plays out over the next year or so.

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