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Will the BlackBerry PlayBook Browser Replace Most Apps?

BerryReview PlayBook BlackBerry

There is one thing we hear over and over from RIM about the BlackBerry PlayBook is the “No-compromise Web.” From the way I hear it RIM is trying to tout the BlackBerry PlayBook’s web browser with its full Flash support as the ultimate app. If you think about it a bit it kind of makes sense in a weird kind of way that the browser will be the “One app to rule them all.” Jim Balsillie has been saying this since November of last year and it is finally starting to make sense to me. Just think about it for a second…

Many apps are just dumb-ed down (aka Mobilized) web services:

If you think hard about it just look at some of the apps you use. I know BerryReader is one of my most popular apps but what if I could simply use Google Readers website properly… Would I need an app? Here are a couple other examples of what I mean:

  • Twitter/Facebook – Would I need an app for them if I could just use the full website?
  • Facebook chat… same story
  • Youtube, Vimeo, Netflix, etc – Flash is king on these sites and the PlayBook also supports HTML5 video from what I have seen in tests I have run.

The thing is that most of these services in “App” form have limitations that set what you can do from the app. For example, you cannot access all your Facebook settings from most Facebook apps. From the website everything is possible. It might not be totally tablet optimized but if it works 95% of the time who cares…

What about Games?!?!?!?!

Ever played a Flash or Facebook game? How about Farmville? RIM is promising that most Flash content games will work on the PlayBook… I have tried it and results are sweet!

How about my native Email? Contacts? Calendar? etc…

If you use a service like Gmail, Google Apps, or Yahoo you could simply visit their website. RIM can even make sites into “launcher links” with notifications served through a simple API when they are open. :)

How about Pandora and Slacker or my other streaming music sites?

Didn’t we say something about uncompromised web? Flash is fully supported so RIM could make all of these apps work!

How about Google Maps?

You just head on over to and use it just like you would on your PC! Better yet use any mapping website you want.

Will RIM manage to be able to make the PlayBook Browser the “One App to rule them all” to alleviate Apple’s head start in the Tablet app marketplace? Its not like these other tablets do not have capable browsers but the Torch team has done some pretty sweet stuff with the PlayBook and even the BlackBerry 6 browser. I am curious if they will be able to pull of another miracle.

What I am really hoping for is if RIM manages to pull off some new fangled web API’s that allow websites to act more like apps without the limitations of the current WebWorks API. For example, there should be a simple API for creating a notification for a user with some reasonable limit. Or better yet the ability to make a site act as its own app instead of simply another tab within the browser.

What do you think?

18 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. this what kills me on android tablet. I know IE is junk but I need it for work. I mean my netbook can do more on the browser then any tablet.

  2. So true. I think the biggest hurdle RIM will have in this regard is informing the public. Most will likely assume the browser is limited in some way and that we will still need a desktop/laptop/netbook to supplement it’s web capabilities.

    For those who are aware of the PlayBook’s ‘super’ browser, this could be huge for portability. Not having to lug around a netbook or laptop simply for web features limited by other tablets would be a great advantage.

    RIM should use this article in their advertising.

    • Indeed. This could save us quite some mb of data. But for facebook and etc, what I love was the fact for “uploaded via facebook for blackberry smartphones”
      I doubt using the full site will garner this effect

  3. I’m holding out on android to fix there browser. I’m.not sure of Google or manufacture can fix the browser. and if bb can run android apps this can be huge

  4. We know what your saying, and that works for me… but the morons over @ apple are releasing app’s for your desktop.

    Sorry… Apple is not moron… it there users.

    Soon we’ll be hearing of morons asking where my facebook app for there mac book.

  5. I agree with Jay. RIM’s biggest hurdle will be the general public. RIM really needs to start advertising, and letting the world know of the PlayBook’s greatness.

  6. You make extremely valid points. Kind of ike how firefox addons reduced the amount of apps I had to download.

  7. Sure RIM may tout Flash for a better web experience thus flaunting their browser, but I’m sure it was indeed done to “flash” (excuse the pun) themselves at Apple. That’s great that these apps all have they’re online web counter-parts, but the best thing about these the apps is that there isn’t advertising to deal with that are hectic on web pages! I say keep the apps! They are easier to work with, find, organise, and well they just fit the bill!

    • Actually RIM used Flash because most of the end user interfaces for QNX before RIM purchased them were done in Adobe AIR and Flash. RIM just played on their strengths.

      • Whether being played on the existing strengths of QNX, it was though heavily presented with Adobe’s own CEO gracing the stage for presence. Though Ronen I’m not arguing with you as what you mentioned does ring some bells and whistles.

        • Ah thats what you mean. Yes they did really play the trump card with Adobe. I think Adobe won since they were not pushed out of the mobile market. RIM also won because now adobe has more incentive to work with them.

  8. I belive that the built in optimized flash browser of the PlayBook definitely has an advantage over other tablets that must rely on the watered down apps. However, RIMM would be wise to put their own spin on these sites (such as add to calender, upload to BBM, etc) to differentiate itself from netbooks or laptops.

  9. The one thing that has me lugging around my laptop is that a lot of the older Blackberry devices can’t play Flash! It’s so frustrating to tell someone to view your site and they can’t. It makes YOU look bad! I’m happy with these new developments. I tend to find obscure flash help apps on though, so all is not bad on my old blackberry.

    • When I started out web design and wanted the all fancy Flash incorporation for my advertising portfolio, I was advised to have an HTML version as well as it would have been old dogs looking at my folio. The last thing I needed to do was give them a headache on trying to install a Flash Player, leaving my site to install the player and then either forgetting about it or lose interest. With the smartphone ability it wouldn’t be too shabby to design an optimised version for mobiles!
      The new BlackBerry’s still can’t play Flash! I’m surely hoping that once the PlayBook has been released that a development process will begin for the mobiles.

  10. Ronen – you’re so right. If the browser delivers as promised, there just isn’t a real need for SO many of those apps.

    Also imagine taking the browser and enabling gears with the site that you’re visiting (not sure who does it or how, I’m no coder) … but that would allow the site to be used offline also. You could perhaps sync a copy of your friends list, most recent news, etc, to a MySQL database locally on the device (I think that’s how it works). Then you’d just alwasy leave a Facebook (or whatever) tab open and always have your info available.

  11. The possibilities are interesting. If the browser could integrates all notifications seamlessly with the system, then we truly have little needs for other mobile apps.

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