Forget-me-not: RIM’s half-ready PlayBook vies for attention

December 3, 2010

www.reuters.comBy Alastair Sharp

Research In Motion’s upcoming PlayBook tablet device made a live guest appearance on home turf today at a Toronto press conference on how these¬† devices that fall between smartphones and laptops will change life as we know it.

When it comes to real-world uses for tablets, most examples understandably came from Apple’s iPad, the old man on the block at eight months old.

The iPad helps autistic children communicate and helps hospitals manage patients. Corporate software maker SAP has even built an iPad app for business intelligence. The list goes on.

Enter RIM’s vice president for special projects, David Neale, with a functioning but not polished PlayBook in hand.

The crowd, a few hundred tech-types, appeared genuinely excited, like they were thinking, “How could I get someone special to buy me one of these babies for Christmas?”

Unfortunately for them,¬† that’s not going to happen.

The PlayBook doesn’t launch until early in 2011, so instead the torn wrapping paper will unveil iPads, or Galaxy Tabs from Samsung or Dell’s Streak .

The best RIM can do is pop up every so often to flash (no pun intended) a little more skin and drip-feed some more details about its offering.

RIM stock has languished in the iPhone era, but that changed when co-CEO Mike Lazaridis took to the stage at the company’s developer conference in late September with a dummy version of the Playbook in hand.

Since then, the stock has see-sawed, rallying hard until its next stumble, when investors priced in that there would be no holiday season buying frenzy and as techies started grumbling about “vapourware” – or non-existent software.

Then Lazaridis showed up at an Adobe conference with a working prototype, showing off how to run a video and jump across to another application, and the stock got another fillip.

So Neale gave generously of his time on a cool December morning in Toronto, taking questions until journalists and bloggers had nothing left to ask, but revealing little.

Asked about security credentials — a RIM trump card — Neale said that once the PlayBook runs as a standalone device on a cellular network, “the anticipation is that the characteristics you would associate with a BlackBerry will continue to persist.”

On whether it’s better to start with an enterprise base and move out to consumers or instead, act a la Apple, and get consumers on board first who then bring devices to work-

“I’ll be Zen and say your view of the journey depends on where you started your journey.”

On what the addition of design company The Astonishing Tribe announced this week means for the PlayBook: “We have tremendous faith that will contribute and pollinate our flowers.”

Pricing detail, beyond the ‘below $500′ line? “Too early to enter into that detail.”

Battery life? “Obviously very important, so it’s something we will optimise, but for the moment I’ll give you no indication.”

Biometrics? “It’s quite possible.”

And on it went. On the subject of QNX, a real-time operating system RIM bought recently and will use in the PlayBook (and likely more) Neale was slightly more forthcoming: “There is a very, very good reason why we wanted to work with a real-time kernel that is very fast.”

On the fact QNX is in a bunch of in-car infotainment systems: “You can imagine that is no accident.”

Reuters: Mike Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, holds the new Blackberry PlayBook with a screen projection of the new device as he speaks at the RIM Blackberry developers conference in San Francisco, California September 27, 2010.

One comment

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

Hi i am very eagerly waiting for playbook. I would like to see its apps list grow.


Posted by playbookapps | Report as abusive