What went wrong – Blackberry PlayBook

14 04 2011

I think of myself as an early adopter. I am a cautious early adopter, not one who jumps in to the newest tech and then unloads it shortly thereafter for a trade-up but I have been in at the beginning of a few themes and occasionally I got burned. Somewhere in one of my drawers I have a lot of ancient technology that should be gently recycled. I have a Palm somewhere, remember them? I also have an iPaq, a little blockier but a small computer-like device that had some power and a few tricks up its electrically charged sleeve. The devices were small enough but they needed chargers and cables and transformers and if you had to travel with them you lugged a lot of weight if you were planning on being away for a few days.

Anyway, this brings me to the tablet conundrum. Everyone is floating their tablets out there in different flavours and colours (yes, Canadian spellings,) and different sizes too, some larger in the 10″ range and then the promised 7″ Playbook. So first let me say I don’t have an iPad and I think I can justify that decision with a look at my wife’s iPhone. She has an iPhone, lots of apps and a nice rounded edge, a thing of beauty. At that point I was a devoted BB fan so I admit I did covet a bit but mostly for the games and some of the cool camera apps. My Blackberry, well, although it has an unlimited data plan it really won’t run any data without putting up a fuss. I can text like crazy and I get to pretend to be in a special club with Blackberry Messenger but after awhile it seems like the club isn’t so special.

Where was I? Right, the sexy iPhone. Well its no fun to text on, and doing a longer email is more than a little annoying if you are/were a Blackberry user so I just couldn’t bring myself to convert. Then the new iPhone came out and I took a second look. The new iPhone has many cool features but it feels bad in your hands. It has edges, and one of the things I liked about the previous iPhone was it just felt so “right” in your hand. Then there were all of those “grip of death” problems with the new phone, and then boom, the first version of the iPad dropped. I looked at the iPad and it is a fun toy, but it was lacking some things in the first version and the second version comes along, something I was waiting on, and by now they have sold I don’t know, 48 million units or something!? I didn’t buy, but this time I didn’t buy because of that unlimited data plan I have and the lure of tethering my Blackberry to the new Blackberry tablet.

The misnamed tablet. What a shame. I was looking for a BlackPad. I wasn’t the only one. I mean its a cool name. The name itself sounds a little dangerous, sort of like the Raiders or something. Blackberry didn’t go with Blackpad. The PlayBook? What were you thinking? You try to sell the “business” application of Blackberry and then you mention “play”. I get it, but it just isn’t a marketing hammer. It just kind of sounds like they aren’t serious. They might have called it the Playpen or something.

Where are the apps? Where is the 3G capability? Blackberry has seen tablets getting released by everyone but Red Lobster and still they are lagging far behind. Sure you can run Android apps on the tablet (which seems like a desperate compromise move) and they can run Flash (did I mention I didn’t buy an iPad?) So I wait until next week to see the big launch of the Black…er….PlayThingy, and I will watch the sales guys in Staples and Best Buy, and wherever try to sell them to people but really, haven’t all of the people interested in tablets picked up their iPads or iPad2s? I’m waiting to give it a try but I’m not in a panic. I was in a Staples this week and they told me excitedly that had pre-sold 4 Playbooks! Isn’t that the death knell? They mentioned I should consider buying because they won’t get many more in stock at first. Gee, I could be one of the first dozen owners. Does that make me an early adopter or a dupe? The iPad 2 went on sale at the Futureshop up the street awhile back and the crowds were lined up for hours – they were sold out in an hour. Guess what, the iPad2s will miraculously be back in stock everywhere next week, at least that’s what a friend of mine suggested and I tend to agree.

Why will the PlayBook be an insignificant player in the tablet tableau? Too late to adopt early, the market was flooded by Apple, the purchase of QNX was too late and nobody is writing apps for them in spite of the offer of the free PlayBook to developers, and they people who are really waiting for it to drop (like me) are waiting because we have unlimited data plans that our Smartphone providers are trying to convince us to give up, and we can’t use them with our Blackberry Curves, Storms, Ratchets, etc. We want the power of tethering to finally burn that data! Is it worth the wait? Well, ask me next week but with the price of an iPad virtually the same as the Blackberry tablet. . .well for a guy who already owns 2 Macs and 3 iPods it might not be a tough choice.

Should have gone with the BlackPad, should have bonded with Android’s OS when you had the chance tossed the device out there with 3G in this iteration. Will the Playbook be around in a year? Probably, but maybe in my discarded tech drawer.

-30-

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