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BlackBerry PlayBook Release Explored

The long awaited BlackBerry PlayBook is finally here. Released April 19, 2011 in retail stores across the USA and Canada, BlackBerry PlayBook is fighting its launch battle and trying to claim a spot in the already saturated tablet market.

First and foremost, I want to welcome the BlackBerry PlayBook to the tablet party. I need to state that I have absolutley nothing against RIM, BlackBerry, or the PlayBook. I wish this tablet success, as with all others.

Secondly, I want to highlight that I am very concerned with the nature by which PlayBook was released, and the continuous disappointments on some very simple things. Call it an oversight, call it a work in progress, whatever you call it, PlayBook is missing a lot that consumers desire – and its agreeably not ready for the market.

Let’s start with something seemingly trivial that’s driving me nuts: the Press Release.

Where is it? It’s 6:30pm Eastern USA, and the BlackBerry PlayBook Press Release is yet to be published. Someone’s seriously slacking in the RIM / BlackBerry marketing team. How do you launch a product without an official Press Release? It’s really weird.

On to more concerning things. I need to throw it out there: the pre-launch reviews were HORRIBLE.

This has to be contributing to the marginal-at-best buzz that surrounds the release of this tablet. It ain’t no iPad debut, that’s for sure!

What is plaguing here is that first impressions are a world of hurt if they aren’t positive. First impressions on the PlayBook? Meh, not so great. The PlayBook has a long road ahead – as shining examples, I’d like to highlight some of the best of the worst of the reviews:

“We have hardware that looks and feels great but isn’t being fully served by the software. And, ultimately, we have a tablet that’s trying really hard to please the enterprise set but, in doing so, seems to be alienating casual users who might just want a really great seven-inch tablet.” -Engadget

“There’s no universal search to quickly find apps. You can’t re-arrange your open app cards. Half the time you try to touch a link in the browser, you don’t know if you touched it correctly or not—the feedback isn’t fast enough. Needing to tether to a BlackBerry to use native mail, calendar and contacts apps is annoying, and potentially deal-breaking any way you slice it. (You have no mail, calendar or contacts stored on the PlayBook if you’re not tethered!)” -Gizmodo

“It seems like everything wrong with the tablet won’t be fixed until later. For now this thing is only good if you happen to have a BlackBerry phone and don’t mind a poor app selection.” -Business Insider

“Is the PlayBook comparable to the iPad? No. Between the lack of app support and the wonky web browsing, there’s just no way around that fact.” -Tech Crunch

“RIM’s PlayBook is a beautifully designed piece of technology, but lacks basic features available from every other tablet in the market.” -Information Week

Now to be fair, the PlayBook is not a huge disaster (yet) and offers quite a bit of promise. I could paint the picture of the BlackBerry PlayBook any which way I desire, however, I like to spit out what I perceive to be the truth. Honestly, the BlackBerry PlayBook (in its current state – without Android, without refinement) is just two things:

  1. A cool companion to any BlackBerry smartphone.
  2. A work in progress.

Notice how it’s not a great tablet just yet? I believe it may get there, but there were some serious mis-steps here!

What I believe to be one of the biggest blunders in tablet marketing and forethought, RIM fell flat on some key elements. PlayBook literally appeals, by design and nature, to existing BlackBerry customers ONLY. This is very different from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, or any others.

I bet if you look at CrackBerry, they love it. Look around elsewhere, to not-so-BlackBerry enthusiastic, and you may find more concerns and dare I say, more whining.

A good thing? No, not at all. RIM’s segmented out the average consumer. The non-BlackBerry owner. Why would you do that? The BlackBerry PlayBook should include, soup to nuts, everything you could ever want and need in a tablet, with or without your phone. That’s the goal. Not let me hitch this sucker to my BlackBerry phone (not even ANY phone!), and see what I can get out of it.

I’m sure the road ahead is a greener path than today. There’s already software updates being released faster than you can implement them. All efforts aside, however, the launch of PlayBook is happening seemingly quietly. I think they’re going to have a hard time gaining and harnessing respect within the tablet market.

BlackBerry is a name to contend with, but PlayBook, well, we’ll see what happens.

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