People often like to criticize Windows Phone’s app marketplace, which offers a selection of more than 80,000 apps, but BlackBerry’s PlayBook is the platform they should actually be concerned about. Netflix, a video streaming service available on nearly every device imaginable, has still yet to arrive on RIM’s tablet, and Skype has confirmed that it has “no plans for a BlackBerry PlayBook-compatible Skype release.” Microsoft purchased the popular VOIP client last year, but it has remained committed to Skype’s multiplatform strategy. The PlayBook, like all devices, has a small but loyal fan base, but the BlackBerry App World is looking a lot more like an “App Town.”
Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Wikipedia Foundation has finally released an official Wikipedia app, providing PlayBook owners with a better experience than the traditional website or third-party apps can provide. The popular travel planning service Kayak has also published its app on the App World, opening up access to the service’s pricing information on hotels, flights, rental cars, and airline fees, as well as features like My Trips, Flight Tracker, Price Alerts, and more.
RIM has certainly had an interesting week, but when doesn’t it? A few days ago, Alec Saunders, the Vice President of Developer Relations for RIM, informed a RIM enthusiast that “we’re removing sideloading [of apps on the BlackBerry PlayBook] for consumers. Pretty sure we’ve got a solution for devs.” This created somewhat of an uproar in the development community, prompting Saunders to clarify his statement in an official blog post.
According to Saunders, Twitter’s character limit made it difficult for him to accurately convey the details. RIM is not removing sideloading. Rather, it is merely limiting it for developer use only. The company is very concerned about pirated apps, claiming that “we don’t want to duplicate the chaotic cesspool of [the] Android Market” (now known as Google Play). Saunders promised to work closely with the development community to ensure that the testing of apps on BlackBerry PlayBook hardware is not hampered.
Speaking to The Verge, a RIM representative noted that the company hasn’t even made its final decision yet. ”We are looking at different options including removal or evolution of our current side loading functionality. In the event that we do decide to go down that path, we will definitely work with developers to ensure we have a fully functioning way for them to test applications on hardware. However, we haven’t finalized or officially announced any plans yet.”
Research In Motion (RIM) President and CEO Thorsten Heins revealed on Thursday that his company has sold more than one million BlackBerry PlayBook tablets since they were introduced to the market. This announcement comes on the eve of the PlayBook’s first birthday. The tablet was initially released on April 19, 2011.
The PlayBook tablet, BlackBerry brand, and RIM as a whole have struggled as of late. During RIM’s fourth quarter earnings call–the same one which highlighted the aforementioned PlayBook statistic–the Canadian company disclosed revenues of $4.2 billion, 19% less than the previous quarter, and a loss of $125 million before adjustments.
Of course, it’s not all doom and gloom in Waterloo. Since taking on the role of President and Chief Executive Officer in late January, Heins has managed to make a number of changes to the struggling company, most recently letting go of three RIM execs–Jim Balsillie (board member), Jim Rowan (global operations COO), and David Yach (software CTO). With the upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system and “over one million” PlayBook customers, RIM might have a chance to turn things back around.
RIM released the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard this week, designed to give BlackBerry PlayBook owners greater flexibility. Unlike most tablet keyboards, which utilize a dock, RIM elected to go with a Bluetooth-enabled keyboard situated in a convertible case. This allows PlayBook owners to fold their tablet and keyboard together like a traditional laptop for greater portability.
The BlackBerry Mini Keyboard includes a multitouch trackpad equipped with left and right mouse buttons, and the Bluetooth connectivity is protected with 128-bit encryption. The accessory can operate for approximately 30 days on a single charge, but those in need of a little juice can use the same charger as the PlayBook itself.
The big question is whether it is worth the $119.99 price tag. We like the idea of the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard, but it’s just 40% less than the entry-level BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Those desperately in need of a keyboard for their RIM-made tablet, however, should find it very useful.
We love tablets here at Anythingbutipad, but we know they aren’t perfect for every situation. Tablets provide a compelling experience for consuming content and media, and they work well for composing the occasional email or making a few edits to a document. But when we need to get real work done, we immediately switch to our laptop or desktop computer.
CrowdGather CEO Sanjay Sabnani recently expressed his satisfaction with Intel-based Ultrabooks like the sleek Acer Aspire S3, which manages to perfectly blend performance and portability. Sabnani calls his tablet and Ultrabook combination a “no compromise” solution, and we tend to agree with him. We live in a world where the best computing experience can be obtained by using tablets and laptops in tandem, rather than just one or the other.
The problem with this dual-device scenario, however, is that tablets and computers have radically different operating systems and user experiences. What’s more, switching between devices can be a bit of a pain. Apps, documents, settings, and more have to be configured on multiple devices, and keeping them in sync is a challenge. Android is purely a mobile operating system, RIM doesn’t manufacture BlackBerry laptops, and Windows tablets aren’t quite ready for prime time… yet.
We have some unfortunate news for those looking forward to getting PlayBook OS 2.0 on their BlackBerry tablet Research In Motion (RIM) announced on Wednesday that it has delayed the exciting update until February 2012.
David Smith, the BlackBerry PlayBook Senior Vice President, confirmed the delay in a rather detailed post on the BlackBerry blog. Thankfully, some people won’t have to wait very long to get their hands on the update. “Select enterprise customers” in RIM’s Early Adopter Program (EAP) will have the opportunity to test multiple PlayBook OS 2.0 betas over the next few months leading up to its release. Developers, meanwhile, can get started writing apps for PlayBook OS 2.0 with the finalized version of the software development kit (SDK).
BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 will finally bring email, calendar, and contacts directly to the PlayBook, and it will also strengthen ties between the PlayBook and BlackBerry smartphones. Unfortunately, not everything made the cut. Smith did confirm that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has been removed from this release. Integrating it with the PlayBook proved difficult, so users will need to continue using the BlackBerry Bridge for the time being.
Research In Motion (RIM) is working on a way for developers to easily run their Android apps on a BlackBerry PlayBook. The company previously announced that PlayBook OS 2.0 will include support for running Android apps, but an on-stage demo at BlackBerry DevCon 2011 showed off the feature in action.
As you can see from the video, multitasking with Android and BlackBerry apps on the PlayBook works quite well. This feature could be very exciting for BlackBerry users. Unfortunately, they won’t be able to just install an Android app store and start playing around. Developers won’t have to modify any code, but they will need to “repackage [the app] using the BlackBerry Nature wrapper.” That being said, it’s a very simple process and it’s a lot easier than starting from scratch.
One has to wonder if developers will begin porting their Android apps to BlackBerry once PlayBook OS 2.0 launches. If enough developers jump on the bandwagon, we could see an explosive increase of apps in the BlackBerry app store.
Believe it or not, most consumers would prefer a tablet running the Windows operating system, rather than something like Android or iOS. This shocking revelation–shocking, at least, to some people–comes by way of the Boston Consulting Group, which recently conducted a survey of preferred tablet operating systems.
The results speak for themselves. 42% of US consumers would prefer a tablet running Windows. This is followed iOS, the first pick for 27% of consumers, and Android, the tablet of choice for 20% of people stateside. BlackBerry, PalmOS, and Meego also garnered some consumer interest, but all were 10%. A separate poll by Forrester shows similar results for Windows tablets (46%), but dramatically lower interest for iOS (16%) and Android (9%).
Thankfully, Microsoft has a solution for these prospective customers. Windows has existed on tablets in one form or another for nearly a decade, but the next version of Windows, codenamed “Windows 8,” is specifically being designed with tablets in mind. Microsoft’s next OS will be a lightweight, fast, fluid, and versatile operating system. It will support nearly every input method imaginable, from the traditional mouse and keyboard to the increasingly popular touch interface. Even styluses will be supported.
Windows 8 tablets probably won’t hit stores until next fall, but when they do, consumers will undoubtedly be struck by how beautiful the reimagined interface is. Nearly half of consumers already want a Windows tablet, despite the fact that it rarely enters into everyday tablet discussions. How many more people will as well once Windows 8 hits the market?