A few random thoughts on the BlackBerry PlayBook

by Volker Weber

iPhone and PlayBook
Photo: vowe

I want to give you some random thoughts on the PlayBook. You have read all the praise and the specs elsewhere. Let's just dive in.

RIM is not launching the PlayBook here. They are not even showing it. You can't touch one. What they have is a "preview". Those devices behind glass are not the PlayBook. I am pretty sure they are design mockups with a screen that is just displaying video, or is running off a development board in the base of the unit. Furthermore, I believe that RIM will be using silicon that does not even exist, like the Tegra 3, which will become available by the end of the year.*

Tablet OS, based on QNX Neutrino looks really really powerful. The specs are beyond any existing tablet. But a lot will happen, until RIM ships in half a year. The little glimpses we see in tiny screenshot suggest that the user experience could be more elaborate than what an iPad provides, with windows, window groups etc. I hope RIM keeps it on the simple side.

RIM does not officially comment on how this thing connects to the Internet. It obviously has Wi-Fi, and it can pair itself with an encrypted connection to a BlackBerry. What RIM does not say today is whether it will use that Bluetooth connection for Internet access. I asked a lot of execs and some were dancing around this subject. Some said, yes it will. Some said, I cannot disclose. My theory is that there is ongoing talk with the mobile operators, who have little interest in providing this capability for free. Blackberry traffic goes through RIM APNs, so operators would have little benefit from this solution.

"PlayBook" is a great brand for a North American audience. I asked them what they are thinking when they hear that name, and it boils down to a laid out plan to put into action. It has a very positive meaning. For the rest of the world, I would say it could go down in business history as a big mistake. I can see tax auditors looking at an invoice asking "WTF, a PLAY BOOK?"

This tablet space is getting awfully crowded for developers. iOS, several Androids, MeeGo, now BB Tablet OS. Will RIM succeed with their own proprietary platform? The PlayBook is going to be one hell of a multimedia device for playing content. Even the stuff you found on the Internet. It will have an interesting integration into the corporate data on your BlackBerry, IF your admin approves. It won't replace your BlackBerry, and while it is smaller than an iPad, you won't fit it in your clothes. You will need to carry both your BlackBerry and your PlayBook. And it will play only with a BlackBerry.

This smells a lot like the Palm Folio that sadly never made it out the door.

*) Update: The Tegra 3 reference might be complete bullshit, as Sascha points out in the comments. I discussed this in SF with Simon Bisson, who hinted at that. What do I know? I'm a software guy. ;-)

Comments

You clearly don't know what kinds of clothes I wear.... ;)

francie tanner, 2010-09-29

Very little, I have been told. ;-)

Volker Weber, 2010-09-29

Tax Auditors aren't that difficult to talk to and usually get accustomed to progress pretty fast. I guess they will learn fast that this is an extension to the BB, which is known as a business device.

Hanno Zulla, 2010-09-29

Well, as least the BB torch ripped off a Palm product that actually shipped.

There's much to be said of letting other bright companies do your R&D.

Craig Wiseman, 2010-09-29

@Craig: The OS screenshots/mock-ups do look a lot like WebOS as well.

Martin Böhm, 2010-09-29

That's all unsubstantiated rumours... but I do have clothes with giant pockets :)

francie tanner, 2010-09-29

This are "design mockups" with rumored hardware that "does not even exist", "how this thing connects to the Internet"? It uses RIM's second "own proprietary platform". And it will only work satisfactorily "IF your admin approves"!

Repeat after me: The heise forum is right. This time.

Sven Richert, 2010-09-29

You must be referring to notoriously German tax auditors... ;-)

Ragnar Schierholz, 2010-09-29

i usually don't leave comments on such articles but hey just to make sure the other readers know that you have no clue about what you are writing...

Tegra 3 will be available by the end of 2011(!!) not 2010 and it will most likely be the quadcore cortex-a9 which is on ARMs roadmap for the end of... yes, you got it: 2011. The blackberry playbooks seems to be running tegra 2, cause this is right now the only dualcore arm-cpu @1Ghz. Qualcomms snapdragon is running at 1.2 and 1.5.

also volker, bevor du so einen quak schreibst, einfach mal hintern bewegen, die entsprechenden konferenzen besuchen (gtc und devcon haettest du in einer woche erledigen koennen)und sich generell informieren. dein bericht steht nun fuer alle zeiten im google cache und das ist nunmal richtig offenbarend ;)

Ich hoffe nur fuer dich, dass du mit diesem "wissen" nicht deinen lebensunterhalt verdienen musst!

Sascha Pallenberg, 2010-10-01

and by the way, of course these 3 PlayBooks were mockups! I did videos of them... basically it was just a screen doing a video playback, so what?
It's their Devcon and it was all about creating buzz for the developers. I've been also attending the QNX session like another 600 devs. Did you ever talked to any of them? Nope! Every got in touch with RIM or the QNX guys? nope!

sorry to say that, but this is just one heck of a poorly researched article... nah, this is tech-conspiracy bs

Sascha Pallenberg, 2010-10-01

Danke, dass Du Dich in unsere Niederungen begibst. So kann ich noch was lernen. Die QNX-Session fand ich auch sehr beeindruckend. Leider haben sie noch nichts verlässliches zur Laufzeit und den nötigen Optimierungen erzählt. Vielleicht kannst Du uns ja erleuchten.

Vor dem Google-Cache graut es mir nicht. Ich weiss noch nicht alles. Deshalb erzähle ich schon mal Unsinn.

Volker Weber, 2010-10-01

Volker, Du weißt nicht alles? Echt jetzt?

Sven Richert, 2010-10-01

tja - so is das mit all diesen neuen vielen g-räthen!

keiner weiß so recht bescheid...

und immer diese viele zeit, die man im weltweiten netz gefangen sein muß, um die alle zu bedienen!


ich hoff, daß nicht irgendwann die spinne kommt...

Manfred Paschen, 2010-10-04

@Sascha Pallenberg
i usually don't leave comments on such articles but hey just to make sure the other readers know that you have no clue about what you are writing...

Da muss man schon verdammt nah an seiner Majestät dran, her TechGodness, sein, um das zumindest im deutschen Beitrag mit so vielen Rechtschreibfehlern zu kommentieren, die ich nicht wegen google cache, sondern vowe.net fürchten würde.

Man sieht sich immer 2x im Leben, womit Volker's Hinweis gerade noch rechtzeitig kam, denn weil noch Plätze frei waren, wäre ein Team fast in letzter Sekunden noch auf den Zug aufgesprungen.

Ich habe meinem Team die Teilnahme an der IBM Konferenz freigestellt.
Es gibt immer 2 Alternativen, auch eine für Notes oder RIM, für Hase oder Igel:

Sie nehmen nicht teil.
Damit hat sich Sascha, nicht google, mehrere kritische Feedbackbögen erspart, weil die Jungs wissen, worüber sie reden, es nur nicht so auf den Punkt vermitteln können wie Volker, der null problemo hatte, so einen Fehler korrekt anzuerkennen.

Mag Volker sich geirrt haben oder nicht, was belanglos ist, da er es random thouhts nannte und von keiner research analysis sprach.

Ich habe aus seinen first impression das gewonnen, was ich wissen musste. Vor zig Jahren hieß es: sx is nix und bezog sich auf intel 486SX Prozessoren, wo das SX eine abgespeckte Variante war und der Spruch gilt auch fürs Playbook jenseits aller Ghz Details und deren Verfügbarkeit.

2 Geräte als companions hat noch nie geklappt, was sogar apple begriff, als es die ipod Befüllmaschine für windows anbot, um die Bedenken zu zerstreuen, dass man für 'n ipod dann womöglich apple computer bräuchte.
Als der ipod und sein UI alltagstauglich war, konnte man das iphone in den Markt werfen, danach das ipad ... und zugleich die Systemverkäufe von Laptops etc. erhöhen. Die i* Produkte funktionieren, ohne dass ich andere apple Produkte haben musste, was beim Playbook nicht der Fall zu sein scheint, der entscheidende K.O. Punkt, denn bricht eine der beiden Batterien zusammen, tut das System nicht mehr.

Wolfgang Andreas Bischof, 2010-10-19

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