Mobile
Commentary
9/28/2010
12:04 AM
Ed Hansberry
Ed Hansberry
Commentary
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Blackberry Playbook Tablet Announced

RIM announced their new tablet, the Blackberry Playbook, which ironically doesn't run the Blackberry operating system. Going up against the iPad is going to be tough enough. Can they do it with an entirely new operating system that will need developers to support it?

RIM announced their new tablet, the Blackberry Playbook, which ironically doesn't run the Blackberry operating system. Going up against the iPad is going to be tough enough. Can they do it with an entirely new operating system that will need developers to support it?Given there was no hardware to show, this looks like a preemptive move by RIM to hopefully give current Blackberry owners pause before buying an iPad. They have indicated it will be available in "early 2011."

Powering the Playbook is QNX, an OS developed by QNX Software Systems. QNX is in the Unix family of operating systems. That may be a smart play on RIM's part as opposed to trying to do this with Blackberry 6.0. The Blackberry OS is getting old and it may be time for a rewrite to compete head to head with the likes of more modern platforms like iOS and Android. Both Palm and Microsoft started over for the same reasons. It will be interesting to see if Blackberry 7 or 8 has its roots in the QNX operating system lightened up a bit for the smartphone form factor.

To compete with the iPad the Playbook will need a rich library of apps and content. Music is not a big deal as many users already have their own collection of MP3 files. Books are another matter and helping out is Amazon, which has announced support of the Playbook with a Kindle app. As far as apps go, we'll have to wait and see how enthusiastically the developer community embraces the device. One thing the Playbook will be able to do that the iPad can't though is Flash.

You can see RIM's promotional video of the software in action as well as some stills of the hardware. If you were in the market for a tablet today and it was available, would you give the Playbook the nod or would you go for the iPad? Or maybe you'd hold out a bit for an Android tablet, which may be hitting the market around the same time the Playbook is supposed to.

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