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BlackBerry PlayBook Sans BlackBerry Still Awesome?

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That is the question that has many analysts wondering if the BlackBerry PlayBook will draw the non BlackBerry crowds as much as the current BlackBerry userbase. RIM has clearly stated that the PlayBook when shipped would not have any of the basic PIM features that made the BlackBerry solution a market leader. It will only have access to email, contacts, calendar, BBM, and other PIM data through the BlackBerry bridge and only if they have a BlackBerry.

On the other hand Ryan Bidan, Senior Project Manager at RIM, seems to think that “On its own, this is a great standalone tablet.” I am not sure I agree but only time will tell. I think there will be a HUGE goldrush at start for somebody to come up with a full ActiveSync client for the PlayBook like the current AstraSync solution for BlackBerry. A full IMAP client would also be nice. Hopefully developers will all team together to recreate what RIM has decided is not important.

Here is my dream for the PlayBook. A third party email client that syncs with Google Apps/Gmail over IMAP or ActiveSync with contact sync and calendar sync using Google’s API. It is really mind blowing to see that RIM has left one of the main features off the PlayBook when email is what made RIM king but I realize they have done that due to the lack of an IT policy on the PlayBook. On the other hand they could have easily said that they would not offer BES email on the PlayBook while allowing BIS which is anyways has no IT policies. Any other explanation really does not make sense because how long could it possibly take to write a email client? I cannot believe they got 1080p playing real time multitasking yet cannot figure out how to write a simple email client.

So any developers up for filling in this gap at launch? Its like RIM is waving a big paycheck in front of your faces telling you they will only have native PIM later in the game. Maybe if you do it better than RIM they will simply acquire you. 🙂 I am not sure how great this will look for RIM if the best selling app on the PlayBook is an email client…

via Forbes via Electronista

15 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. RIM really dropped the ball on this one aspect of an otherwise great looking tablet. Did they really expect to come out of CES unscathed when their tablet doesn’t even have native PIM apps? As you said Blackberry is known for its email capabilities, and it’s undercut its own brand.

    Blackberry users won’t care as much, because they’ll all have the bridge capability, but if the wider public was looking for a reason NOT to buy it, this is it.

    I read a Cnet blog this morning asking this same question. It noted that one of the main reasons people won’t buy it is because it seems to be for Blackberry users only. Now Ryan Bidan has vaguely confirmed that PIM apps will come out eventually, but that type of vague answer doesn’t really help ease the uncertainty.

    It’s my fear that these won’t be available on the WiFI tablet, but only the 4G model. Hopefully its more of a software update so every Playbook can function fully.

    As for a third party app to fill the vacuum for the time being, I’ll probably fine with checking my Gmail through the browser for now, but a Native Calendar app is crucial for me.

  2. I don’t see why not – the iPad, etc. don’t come with more features built-in

  3. I hope so because I will not be using it with my Blackberry. I want it to be a device on it’s own. 🙂

  4. I see this as a real shame if they don’t have the native apps at launch and it can’t be a stand alone system. I know some here have said it won’t be that bad to have your device connected to the Playbook, but if you are going for those on other platforms…you just lost their money. As a BlackBerry user, I don’t want extra cords or having to bluetooth connect to the Playbook. Then my battery will be dying as well. Seems like the Surepress thought process. We’ll have touch screen, but in an odd way that we think will win everyone didn’t. Maybe only 35% were happy with it.

  5. I don’t understand what is the fuss about this??!! Ipad never had a a super email app or great native email and it goes the same for the Galaxy tab and others that will be coming out! So everybody complaining, just use the web since you have full flash integration! Even ipad users don’t complain about not having flash and here we are complaining about a tablet that does run flash better than any other for everybody to enjoy the internet the way it should be!

    On top of all this, we all know that a developer will come out with an email app that will use imap and pop3! With the open source concept and the many ways to develop for this platform, I wouldn’t even be worried at launch!

    Also, I’d like to add for the people who would of wish to have the same advantage as all bb users, get your self a blackberry or just enjoy the tablet! You can not have the butter and the money of the butter! And again, I’m sure a developer will come out with a solution for all non blackberry users but don’t expect to get bbm cause that will always only be tied up to a pin device which is registered on the BB network!

    • Not really complaining. But what I’m saying is that you would expect the “kings” of mobile email to have this built into it’s own device. It’s their device, they don’t have to. But it does seem odd to say the least. Flash…eh. Depends on what you use for email. But this also goes back to BerryReviews posting a week ago or so that mentioned about the possibility of blocking 3rd party apps. It’s all speculation until it launches.

  6. I’m sorry, but RIM is really dropping the ball on this tablet and it’s still months away. If I recall correctly, the first devices will be sans 3G/4G – you must connect via wifi (better be 802.11n) or bridge through your BlackBerry. Right there, RIM is limiting themselves. Personally, I don’t want anything but wifi or tethering because I refuse to pay for a second wireless plan, but that doesn’t mean that a HUGE portion of the mobile user base will be happy connecting their phone to a tablet.

    The lack of PIM is ridiculous. Stop saying “Well, Apple did this…” Who cares? RIM is in the fight of their lives with companies like Apple and all the Android devices out there. They need to do what those companies/platforms aren’t doing in order to sway users. Remember, those of us reading these blogs are most likely already BlackBerry fanboys. I know I am. You’ve got to think about the soccer moms out there, the businessmen who are looking for a device of convenience.

    RIM had a golden opportunity to say “Take that iOS & Android! Look at what the Playbook can do!” and this 1st generation device doesn’t look spectacular to me. Yes, full Flash support is cool. It is not enough. If the device were basically a full BlackBerry in 7″ size with the addition of the new, slick OS – then they’d have a winner.

    It just seems to me that RIM can’t do anything right. Like I said, they’re in the fight of their lives and while I’m getting off topic, the devices coming down the pipe in 2011 don’t excite me for one second. 🙁

    • I share some of your concerns, but I don’t think its as bad as you think.

      It’s still months away as you say, so there’s time to answer some of the questions out there.

      First off, the 3G version should be coming out no more than a month after the WiFi, if recent reports are true. After that, the 4G and LTE are likely to be around the corner. So that’s issue #1 down.

      The lack of native PIM apps (at launch) is the main concern I have–well not me specifically since I’ll have a Blackberry anyway. But to have no native e-mail or calendar seems a bit bizarre. My guess is RIM doesn’t see the need for a WiFi tablet to have these PIM apps without a Blackberry bridged since you couldn’t have the services pushed to your device while you’re on the road with no WiFi connection. Not sure if I buy that, but I think that’s their rationale. Later on when the 3G and 4G version comes, obviously native PIM apps become more relevant. And that’s when I think they’ll release the apps on the platform.

      Not ideal, but not bad enough that it’ll flop.

      And about the 2011 phones.. I’d line up on launch day for the Dakota.. that’s just me though.

  7. Has anyone been able to verify that in fact the PlayBook will not launch with native PIM apps? From what I recall the project manager gave a vague answer to the question by replying that native PIM apps will be included as the OS evolves. That could be by launch, two months after launch , or a year after launch. We don’t know! So, until it has in fact been confirmed I think it would be wise not to get all excited about speculation. Has anyone been able to confirm it will not launch with native PIM apps?

    • No, but if you look at the promo’s for the device, they do show that it will have them. Especially if Sprint, AT&T, and VZW’s LTE version is out in Feb/Mar. I’m sure they just didn’t everything tested before CES

      • I just can’t see it launching without native PIM, but many people are speculating as if it has been confirmed that it will not. I haven’t paid too much attention to the promos, but hopefully this is a good sign. I’m excited about the PlayBook and can’t wait to get one.

  8. Maybe the project manager wanted to keep some things secret and not let all cats out of the bag

    • I sure hope so. However, it seems many have taking his comments to mean whatever they decide it should mean. Let’s hope for the best until we get confirmation either way.

  9. Hi everyone,

    It’s Alex from RIM.

    Thanks for all the great feedback and questions. I want to clarify a few misconceptions about the future of e-mail on the BlackBerry PlayBook. While one e-mail option is to pair your PlayBook to a BlackBerry smartphone using the BlackBerry Bridge system (explained by PlayBook product manager Ryan Bidan in this video ( Q & A), a future software update for the PlayBook will also provide native e-mail, calendar and contact apps for those customers who prefer to have these directly on the tablet. Plus, PlayBook users can access web-based email clients, too. There is also no intention to block third-party developers from creating their own e-mail app. In fact, we recently released a WebWorks SDK ( that supports HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, and have extended our free PlayBook offer ( to March 15 as a result. I hope this clears up your questions. If anyone wants to learn of the latest BlackBerry PlayBook developments, stay tuned to our Inside BlackBerry Blog (


    • Very true. I just know I am going to want to access email on my PlayBook and don’t want to have to resort to the browser. While it would be nice I have to run about 10 tabs in my browser to keep up on my email and other things.
      BTW any word on if the PlayBook browser runs websites in the background? For example, if you are on Gmail and change to another tab will Gmail javascript still run?

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