The tablet has plenty of potential. Along with plenty of issues.
The BlackBerry PlayBook finally launched in the US yesterday and I’ve been browsing through forums reading opinions of people that bought it. While people generally have positive things to say, there are quite a few discussions that reminded my why Apple is so successful with their product launches and others aren’t.
Like the Motorola Xoom, it seems as though many things on the BlackBerry PlayBook are going to be “coming soon.” To give you a quick recap- the Xoom promised Flash support (which it eventually delivered) and a 4G upgrade (which it hopefully will) when it was released. RIM is also promising a native email client and BBM functionality in the upcoming days. For customers in the US, AT&T threw a bomb on launch day by not allowing access to the Bridge application on your BlackBerry device.
For those that don’t know, the “Bridge” connects your PlayBook to your BlackBerry mobile phone and allows you to view all the contacts, emails and appointments in your BlackBerry on the PlayBook. It also allows you to browse the Internet using your BlackBerry’s data connection. Without the Bridge, you wont be able to access PIM functionality (Contacts, Calender, Tasks etc.) on your PlayBook making it, more or less, a $500 web browser than needs Wi-Fi access to function- not exactly a picture of a cutting edge device.
Considering that the PlayBook was announced way back in September of last year, I am quite surprised and a little disappointed that even with with six months between announcing and launching a product, RIM has still managed to miss things that should have worked out of the box. Not only did RIM lose out on the software but six months back, they had announced the first dual-core tablet and by the time it was released, the Xoom and iPad 2 were already available with dual core CPUs completely stealing the PlayBook’s thunder.
Now lets take a look at the Apple iPad. The original iPad was announced and released within two months of the the announcement. The iPad 2 launched within a week of its announcement. Whatever Apple promised on these devices was present on them at launch day- there were no real surprises. Yes, I agree that the iPad doesn’t play Flash or has an SD card slot but Apple never promised anything of that sort. They gave the consumers exactly what they said they will and not made them wait too long for it either. And to top it all, Apple is brilliant with their marketing and their retail stores that create enough hype to guarantee long lines on launch days.
I know that launching a new product is never easy but there seems to be way too many hiccups with the PlayBook and that results in a negative initial experience instead of a neutral or positive one. This puts a lot more pressure on RIM to rectify these issues and do it really fast if they want the PlayBook to succeed. I really hope that RIM works on the PlayBook and it doesn’t turn out to be another BlackBerry Storm for them- a rushed, half-baked product that was brought to market simply because RIM wanted to say “me too.”