RIM Delays PlayBook OS Update

Research In Motion has put off the promised fall software update for its PlayBook tablet until February 2012.
Rather than release buggy, unfinished software for the PlayBook tablet, RIM will continue work on the next version of the operating system until it is truly ready for consumer and enterprise use, the firm said. It expects that PlayBook OS 2.0 won't be ready until around February. The update had been scheduled originally for this fall.

"As much as we'd love to have it in your hands today, we've made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers, and end-users," the company said in a statement.

In order to do that, the first thing RIM is going to do is nix its popular BlackBerry Messenger application from the PlayBook. RIM originally said it would bring most BlackBerry functions--including email and BBM--to the PlayBook. This now means RIM's messaging service is off the table.

"We are committed to developing a seamless BBM solution that fully delivers on the powerful, push-based messaging capabilities recognized today by BlackBerry users around the world and we're still working on it," said RIM. "In the meantime, BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to continue to use BlackBerry Bridge to securely access BlackBerry Messenger on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet's high resolution display."

[ Learn more about the PlayBook hardware. View our slideshow RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Teardown. ]

RIM is providing developers with a gold release of the native BlackBerry PlayBook SDK, and a new beta of the PlayBook OS 2.0 SDK. RIM says the newest series of SDKs and developer tools (detailed by the company at its Devcon event last week) will give developers all that they need to properly write and configure their PlayBook applications for the 1.0 and 2.0 system versions. The SDK will be updated over time to eventually include support for the new Cascades user interface, too.

In the meantime, RIM will be firing up closed betas of PlayBook OS 2.0 with select business customers. The betas will be used to assess how PlayBook 2.0 works out in the real world. "The betas will be conducted within global enterprise environments and will test the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet solution from end-to-end within corporate IT infrastructures. Feedback and improvements from these betas will benefit the overall BlackBerry PlayBook customer experience," said RIM.

RIM says a lot of the work it is doing on the PlayBook involves making it an even more secure and stable platform for its enterprise customers. "Enterprises will uniquely have the ability to manage tablets from a centralized server, while BlackBerry Balance ensures a seamless user experience for personal and professional needs and gives CIOs the peace of mind that corporate data is secure," said RIM.

PlayBook 2.0 will, however, bring much-needed and long-missing features such as support for email, calendar, and contacts support (10 months after launch). It will add a new video store, and improve the Bridge app so that the PlayBook works even better with RIM's BlackBerry smartphones.

This delay, while being set for the right reasons, is yet another sign of RIM's inability to execute on its deliverables. RIM surely hopes that the month of October 2011 comes to a close as quickly as possible, given the BlackBerry outage, lukewarm BlackBerry 7 device sales, and now this PlayBook OS delay.