The PlayBook: everything you'd expect from BlackBerry. Except email.

Bitterwallet - Blackberry PlayBook tabletGoodness. The latest tablet sensation isn't even available yet and it's failed already. BlackBerry supremos Research in Motion (RIM) have been banging the drum about their PlayBook tablet for months, promising they'd blow away the competition - namely Apple's iPad. The wait is almost over, however - the PlayBook launches on the other side the Atlantic on Tuesday, and the first reviews have hit websites and newspapers across the country.

They're not great. Why? Because RIM - who made their name by delivering secure email solutions - forgot to add what can only be considered a must-have feature, a feature so blindingly obvious you can scarcely believe it isn't included on the PlayBook.

Email. A BlackBerry product that can't do email.

The only way to access secure email on the 7 inch tablet, is to connect a BlackBerry handset to it, otherwise you'll have to wait up to 60 days while RIM get around to building the application to do it. The decision to leave email off their tablet was intentional - RIM didn't consider it important for a tablet device.

BlackBerry supporters are keen to point out that it's not a simple task - ensuring similar security protocols to BlackBerry handsets will take time, they say. If so, why not delay the launch for another month or two? The PlayBook has been marketed as been both a business tool and a gaming platform - email is a must for the former and will surely be expected by the latter.

Some reviews report hardware niggles, some say it feels like a rush-job, although plenty praise individual PlayBook features. It doesn't matter now - RIM have a two month battle to beat back the negative media they themselves have created, and convince customers it'll be worth the wait.


  • markymark
    Their PR company will be parping "it's not a problem! For real!" as loudly as they can to cover the sound of several VPs clearing their desks. And several thousand pissed-off potential customers who waited patiently will be placing their orders for iPads.
  • Jerec
    What a bunch of tits! How can they possibly say that, its obvious that it needed email!
  • ianb
    not sure where the problem is here. We've been waiting a long time for the playbook just because it's an addon to the phone. I've always expected it to be such, and most previews since announcement have said so too. We want a device that won't need any extra management and will just enhance the usability for vast number of phone users ie provide a large format access to information etc from the system they already carry around. I'm sure a lot of the people who knew what they were waiting for for will be unconcerned.
  • NellieIrrelevant
    I'm sure a lot of the people who knew what they were waiting for will still find themselves thinking, 'Why the heck am I lugging two devices around?' If email isn't a big deal, and no-one with a BB will need it, why are RIM bothering to add it? RIM knows damn well that if they had included an email function, people could have chosen to use it or not. if it's not included, you can't. Therefore the tablet offers you less flexibility and choice than rivals. Therefore it's inferior. They've fecked it up and it's pointless to claim they did it on purpose.
  • John
    The problem is the Playbook shouldn't need to be tethered to a phone to get core Blackberry features, it's a messy solution and from what I've read in reviews the Bridge system is not well implemented either. I have been utterly baffled with RIM's approach to the Playbook as early previews highlighted its video playback performance and Quake3 framerates neither of which I thought would be particularly relevant to RIM's usual market. Now it's released it's clear they're not going for their usual enterprise market and insted trying to compete in the main tablet market which I think is a mistake. The company I work for (large international one) does not allow Ipads on the network despite demands for a tablet device however Blackberries are, if RIM had produced a tablet aimed at enterprise use with BES and long batterylife it's likely to have been able to steal some of the enterprise market with little competition. As it is the device comes across as a rush job which has been poorly thought out which isn't a great way to launch a product. Then again it does live up to its daft name.
  • The p.
    And this is the competition pmsl Sir Steve jobs must be shitting himself not !!
  • Rich
    Actually, Steve Jobs probably is shitting accident.
  • brian
    @ianb - to compete with the ipad (which this is obviously trying to do) it will need to distinguish itself with features not found on apple's tablet device. This would have been an ideal time for RIM to include the secure email function that have made their handsets so appealing. However they chose not to do that therefore lumping the Playbook into the same category as the ipad with little feature differentiation. It's like RIM's attitude was to say: "Look ipad can run Unreal engine, however our Playbook can run the Quake 3 engine" It's all well and good but ipad did that first and anything else is seen as a "me too" move. Tablet makers need to bring something new to the table or else it will be forever seen as a "me too" device compared to the ipad due to the market share and brand awareness that Apple has at the moment. If companies like RIM and Motorola want to jump on this silly tablet bandwagon then they need to bring something new that the ipad doesn't do at the moment.
  • ianb
    It's wierd, this is the sort of device that I've been describing to people long before slates took off. "I always carry my phone around, I want to use it as my hub and have something that adds capability. If I don't want/need the other device, I still have my email/important files with me". I don't need a second sim and data plan, I don't need to synchronise two devices (for that matter, choose which device is synchronised iirc I can't synchronise two devices to BES), I don't have to worry about securing two devices. I *will* carry two devices with me (when needed) as I don't want to be taking into a slate. I agree email could've been included for those that just want a slate and don't have a phone, but to to say it isn't a conscious decision on RIMs part is incorrect (the earliest previews all tout the connectivity only through the phone) and that it doesn't appeal to a part of the market (the enterprise) which have been strongly resisting the ipad is short sighted. As it is, any business that runs Blackberry's can effectively procure a slate and literally just hand it over to a user (even just have a pool of them to loan out as required). No configuration, no activation, no worry. *this* is the 'something new' that the ipad doesn't do. John you say 'if' they'd designed something for enterprises who use BES - they have? the users of this will most likely have a blackberry. To be balanced though, it doesn't fit for everyone, and unfortunatley RIM are trying to be all things to all people. The confusing (to non-american football fans) name " 'play' book? not a business tool then" and gaming features reflect the need now to compete in the consumer space and always be comparable to the ipad. They got it badly wrong with the rushed Storm, although it was tough enough to survive me throwing it at the wall several times :-) We'll see how it goes but I think the existing BES businesses will take this on in droves and allow time for the consumer App to be introduced (slightly tongue in cheek, but if they'd got it all fully featured straight away RIM'd never have been able to meet demand and p#ssed off the 'sure sell' market )
  • ianb
    sorry, *talking* not taking, end of second para (can we have an edit comment facility, please?)
  • Ten B.
    [...] The PlayBook: everything you’d expect from BlackBerry. Except email. [...]

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