I am always amazed when analysts and reporters love to open their mouths to prepare for more “foot” to be shoved in. For the last month or two we have been hearing non stop tirades on how the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook will be a non starter and pales when pitted against the competition. I see it over and over again and it dismayed that some people are so set against a device that has the potential to actually redefine the tablet market. (and the smartphone market with the QNX OS)
Lets take the most common reasons haters cite as to why the PlayBook will fail miserably.
- The BlackBerry PlayBook doesn’t have a significant number of apps…
- It costs the same as an iPad
- It does not have a native email client at launch (Requires a BlackBerry for Bridging)
Lack of PlayBook apps
More often than not I hear about how the PlayBook does not have enough apps to compare against the iPad and Android Honeycomb builds. First of all lets set the stage a bit. What market is the BlackBerry PlayBook targeted at? A smartphone companion or a laptop replacement? I asked many iPad users and to them it almost always is defined as a sub-$800 laptop replacement or alternative. So that got me thinking. How many apps do you have installed on your laptop that you would want on a tablet?
As I pointed out before, most of the things I do on my laptop are in the browser. For example, right now I have 40+ tabs open in FireFox. The thing is that almost half of them are “Apps” that will work like a charm on the BlackBerry PlayBook. Trust me I tried them. Here are some examples:
- Two Google Apps email accounts and One Gmail account
- Gmail Calendar
- Google Reader
- Google Analytics
- Google Adsense
So essentially every website that uses Flash is an “app” that is unnecessary on the BlackBerry PlayBook. There might be a benefit for some things to be pulled into an app but WHY compromise? It seems like everybody has forgotten that Apple’s iPad is missing the most popular app on the web. Namely Flash. While Android has Flash it is not available built into the native OS. According to RIM that is 1.6 million more Flash website “apps” that are unavailable on the iPad.
The PlayBook costs the same as the iPad
This one puzzles me. RIM is the first grade-A tablet maker that has a Tablet priced anywhere near the iPad. It matches it almost dollar for dollar without carrier subsidies. Except for the screen size, which makes it more portable, the iPad stacks up nicely against the PlayBook with each winning in different areas. Don’t get me wrong RIM could sell more if it was priced at $300 but then they would be losing money and undervaluing their own product.
In short it is the same price or even less because you can use coupons on the BlackBerry PlayBook at retailers and the prices are only MSRP. That means they will go down while the iPad will remain $499+ until next year.
It does not have a native email client (BlackBerry Bridge)
I am really curious to know how many consumers out there have a native email client on their desktop or laptop? I only use Outlook at the office because of its Exchange features but other than that I exclusively use Gmail and Google Apps. RIM made a compromise and simply allowed you to view your BlackBerry Smartphones email from your PlayBook. An interesting idea and a real win for businesses that cannot justify paying for another data plan just to get email, calendar, contacts, and other data on a business tablet.
That means that many companies can deploy the PlayBook along with a BlackBerry as a value proposition. They can use the device over Wi-Fi regularly but access their email, contacts, and calendar on a bigger screen. We know RIM is bringing a native email client in the future but I would rather them get it right since there is a reason I don’t use Outlook for my Gmail and Google Apps accounts.
I would actually flip this lack of native email complaint on its head. The BlackBerry PlayBook is the only tablet that gives you access to email, contacts, calendar, BBM and more without a data plan for your tablet. The BlackBerry PlayBook is also the only tablet to ship with a built in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel application along with a PDF reader. That same suite costs $30+ on an iPad from Apple…
In short I think RIM has a solid offering with the BlackBerry PlayBook. It is really sad to see people hating on the device for nitpicky reasons without seeing the future potential for RIM. This is a long game for RIM. They plan on consistently adding functionality to the PlayBook. For example, the Android apps and Java apps player will be coming in the summer. They will also be releasing a native email client, gaming engine, C/C++ SDK, 3G and 4G variants, and more as a constant evolution.
In short the BlackBerry PlayBook has some serious potential. It offers features and speed that can only be dreamed of on other platforms with an OS that has been around longer than Windows and designed by a company that defined mobile productivity. After stagnating a bit in the mobile OS RIM has brought a gun to the gun fight with the BlackBerry PlayBook and it’s main competitor is essentially running a smartphone OS on a bigger screen. I got a chance to play with the BlackBerry PlayBook quite a few times until now and I cannot wait to finally take one home!
Let me know what you think!
PS: Expect a follow up article on why I think you should choose the BlackBerry PlayBook over competitors like the iPad. Once you set it down in an easy to consume format you start seeing things like “no iTunes required” and native Flash support.