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1/18/2011
10:15 AM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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PlayBook's PIM Problem

RIM's forthcoming tablet lacks the same live BlackBerry Enterprise Server access that its BlackBerries enjoy

RIM's forthcoming tablet lacks the same live BlackBerry Enterprise Server access that its BlackBerries enjoyResearch In Motion has been pitching its PlayBook tablet as an enterprise device non-stop since its debut in September 2010. What would you rate the most essential enterprise features? I'd say access to email, contacts, and calendar are the three most necessary elements, followed perhaps by access to the enterprise intranet and internal documents.

The PlayBook will first launch in a Wi-Fi only configuration (Sprint will sell a WiMax version this summer). That means the PlayBook can only snag emails and other data when in range of Wi-Fi hotspots. Email, contacts and calendar data are not "live" on the PlayBook as they are on a regular BlackBerry. In fact, the only way to access live corporate PIM data is to tether a BlackBerry to the PlayBook via Bluetooth. The PlayBook will then mirror whatever data is on the BlackBerry.

Am I missing something here? How is it possible that RIM would bring an enterprise tablet to market without support for the most basic and necessary enterprise features? I'm not the only one puzzled. Current Analysis's Avi Greengart said in a report about the PlayBook, "The PlayBook is not a fully standalone device…it is astonishing that RIM would go this route."

RIM believes its model is going to work, especially where security is concerned. Alec Taylor, RIM's vice president of product marketing for business alliance, said in an interview, "CIO's are excited about the PlayBook because they understand this security model." How is the PlayBook secure? Well, there's no corporate data actually stored on the device. A BlackBerry is required for full enterprise support. Without one, the PlayBook has no enterprise access.

RIM thinks Greengart is wrong. "On its own, this is a great standalone tablet," said Ryan Bidan, a RIM senior product manager in charge of the PlayBook, in an interview with Forbes. "This is not a device that is reliant on a BlackBerry." While it doesn't rely on a BlackBerry for most other features, leaving out PIM is a big gaping hole.

"Some people view tablets as an extension of the mobile experience," continued Bidan. "Some think it's an extension of the laptop experience. We want to build a platform that meets both of those needs."

You know what I need on my smartphone, tablet and laptop? Email. You know what most enterprise users will need? Email.

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