It seems as if RIM is doing all it can to mess up what could be one of the best tablets we have yet seen.
Having already failed to have the software developer kit (SDK) finished prior to shipping and only having a WiFi version at launch were bad enough, but RIM is now telling us that the BlackBerry PlayBook will come without native communication and messaging apps that made BlackBerry smartphones so popular. In a leaked FAQ for the PlayBook, the Canadian manufacturer tells us that native calendar, contacts, messaging and email will not be present when early adopters unwrap their new tablets on 19 April, when the device is launching in the States. News last week that Android apps would be supported on the platform was seen as a major coup for RIM, but this latest mis-step will leave many frustrated.
In the FAQ, RIM says that the PlayBook can be securely connected to a BlackBerry smartphone over Bluetooth via the BlackBerry Bridge feature where the native apps on the phone can be displayed on the bigger 7in screen of the tablet. It also helpfully points out that email can be accessed through the PlayBook browser, which was nice of them. However at the end of the FAQ it finally admits the lack of native apps promising they will be coming soon: “In a future software update for the BlackBerry PlayBook, we will also provide native e-mail, calendar, and contact apps for those customers who prefer to have these apps directly on the tablet.”
“Those customers who prefer to have these apps directly on the tablet?” Do they mean everyone then? This could be a major issue for RIM and will leave those people who have been pinning their hopes on the PlayBook being a real iPad competitor, burying their head in their hands. It seems from all the evidence that despite giving Apple well over a year of a head start, RIM has still rushed the PlayBook to market and it will not be all that we hoped it could be when we were seriously impressed at CES in January.
It’s now clear that when RIM CEO Jim Balsillie said that apps were pointless, he really meant it. With the launch of the PlayBook in the UK not for a few months yet, let's hope we will have a fully functioning tablet to play with by then.