Initial reviews of RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook were less than stellar. Without going into every piece of criticisim levied against it by a slew of reviewers, the following blurb from David Pogue appropriately sums things up:
Remember, the primary competition is an iPad — the same price, but much thinner, much bigger screen and a library of 300,000 apps. In that light, does it make sense to buy a fledgling tablet with no built-in e-mail or calendar, no cellular connection, no videochat, Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds? You should also know that even now, only days before the PlayBook goes on sale April 19, the software is buggy and still undergoing feverish daily revision. And the all-important BlackBerry Bridge feature is still in beta testing. It’s missing important features, like the ability to view e-mail file attachments or click a link in an e-mail.
Responding to such criticisms, RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis took umbrage with some of the initial negativity surrounding the PlayBook.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” Balsillie explained in a television interview. And addressing concerns regarding the lack of a native email client and basic apps like a calander, Balsillie said that 60 million BlackBerry users worldwide can access their email on the PlayBook merely by using RIM’s Bridging technology.
Because, yeah, everybody with a tablet wants to be able to check their email by bridging it with their smartphone.
“A lot of the people that want this want a secure and free extension of their BlackBerry,” Balsillie continued.
Well, we have to disagree.
People who want tablets want a free floating device that’s not co-dependant on a smartphone in order to maximize functionality. A true tablet can stand on its own and doesn’t need to be an extension of anything. Truth be told, we have no doubt that RIM itself knows this, but hey, we suppose that getting to market as quickly as possible forced them to rush out an OS without functionality like basic email. But hey, it’s not like the typical BlackBerry users is interested in checking email anyways, right?
And as for the 7-inch form factor which Steve Jobs has already said is “dead on arrival”, Lazaridis responded: “This is superior. It’s far more portable, it’s lighter in your hands, you can hold it for longer.”
Yet another example of a competitor missing the point. All tablets by definition are portable. Superiority isn’t a function of weight. Sure, it’s a factor, but it’s hardly the determining factor. Users care about what they can do with a device, the apps they can download etc. By focusing on weight exclusively, perhaps because that’s all there is to boast about for the time being, RIM exemplifies the strategy that keeps Apple’s products head and shoulders above the competition.