back to article Reviewers slam BlackBerry PlayBook software

Research in Motion launched the BlackBerry PlayBook in the States last night, and with it reviewers' non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have expired. What they are saying does not inspire confidence. The hardware meets with approval, but is being let down by RIM's software. The key case for the prosecution: no on-board email, a …


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  1. Marky W

    "The hardware meets with approval, but is being let down by RIM's software"

    'Quelle surprise', as your average cheese-eating surrender-monkey would say.

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Not really UI experts?

      What would you expect from Blackberry? they're hardly long established player in IT are they?

      They came up with a killer business idea, push email, patented it and then produced a product which was the only phone to offer that feature at that time. The patent is such that nobody else can do such efficient push email at this time, Microsoft, Apple and Google offer it but the process they use is more battery intensive.

      They could have produced a phone with a 1990s style Nokia phone interface with a QWERTY keyboard and still sold millions. It had the one killer feature that business was after.

  3. Giles Jones Gold badge


    You can see why the iPad is selling, you really can't expect a competitor to beat the iPad unless it either does everything better or does more or costs significantly less.

    In the case of the Playbook it does less and will lack the refinement that a established product provides (iPad is on second revision now), so you can argue it does things worse.

    Perhaps the Apple haters out there will realise why the iPad sells like it does? it's not all fanboy-ism, it is because the competition make too many compromises and omissions and also can't get the flipping price right either!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Agree but disagree

      I see what you're saying but I'd say the counter and still agree with you.

      Apple make compromises and omissions that their core target market don't care *too much* about. By doing so they deliver price, performance and features that suit 80-90% of users.

      I think it's the case that others now scrambling on the tablet bandwagon try too hard - must have an SD slot, must have HDMI out, must have blah blah... The upshot is that there's increased complexity and vague marketing.

      All these extras are great and maybe essential to the vast majority of commenters on here, but it just adds confusion to the core tablet market, which certainly doesn't seem to be techies.

      Actually, it looks to me like the tablet market is going to mature in exactly the same way as the PC market did - Apple providing a somewhat simpler and more restricted approach with Google (formerly read Microsoft) chasing low margin, volume and niche market positions.

      The difference this time seems to be that Apple have might have learned from the great feck up that was their surrender of the desktop market and will end up with a steady 20-30% of a market (and probably 60-70% of the reasonably profitable market) rather than 5-10% as they did with desktops.

      The danger of rushing to the bottom like this is that hardware manufacturers end up as busy fools with little or no margin to be earned.

  4. LPF

    And another one bites the dust

    Seriously Apple must be laughing there heads off, over a year and still no decent competitors!

    1. Carol Orlowski

      according to apple.

      however those NOT brainwashed by Apple can see products better and cheaper. The Motorola Xoom, the Acer one, the Galaxy Tab....

      1. Ammaross Danan


        I couldn't call the Xoom cheaper, and not quite better either compared to the iPad2's gfx capability (superior still) and screen. Now, the Samsung 8.9" and 10.1" Tabs are/will-be superior (with a performance hit in gfx compared to iPad2). By years-end, the iPad2 will look quite antiquated, just like the iPhone or MacBook Air does now. That's Apples biggest problem: they're high-end market without necessarily having high-end components/features. Their "high end" is in "Oooh shiny," as a status symbol (phallus waving) and UIs.

  5. Ian Ferguson


    Without secure email or blackberry messenger, I'm not sure who's going to buy this. I tried to encourage our management to hold off buying iPads and wait for the PlayBook, for security reasons, but that argument's not going to hold any water now!

    So Blackberry seem to be alienating their core audience (enterprise) and aiming the PlayBook at the consumer market; which frankly is a non-starter considering that they're up against luxury iPads and value Android pads.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    "BlackBerry Bridge, to hook tablet to smartphone and use the latter's 3G link to grab secure email."

    I thought that most operators frowned on tethering? I thought that your data allowance is for your phone and your phone alone, not for using on other devices.

    I've had that much interest in it, I just know the tethering/data-allowance arguments can get quite heated.

  7. nichomach

    I have to agree with the posters above

    at least as far as this slab goes; a Blackberry with no email? What idiot thought that was a good idea?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: email by VPN

    Not given because RIM reckon their system of mobile device to Blackberry server is more secure?

    If they could do email over VPN then they would be in the same line of business as Outlook/Exchange etc.

  9. RichyS


    RIM have been banging on for nearly a year now about how great the PlayBook is going to be, and how much time they've spent perfecting it.

    And yet they /still/ manage to release something that's basically still in beta, and missing key features. This isn't a 'no cut and paste yet' type omission. This is email FFS. You know, the only service RIM are actually any good at. It's utterly astonishing.

    Love them or hate them, you have to prefer Apple's approach of saying nothing until a device is ready to launch. All this preamble, and RIM come up with /this/?

    LPF above is right. Apple must be finding all these tablet attempts hilarious.

  10. Kevin Johnston

    Memory anyone?

    Back before the Playbook even had a name, one thing that was very clear from how it was being talked up was that all the connectivity would come through the linked blackberry phone. Was I the only person that read this?

    From that premise, none of the reviewers complaints in the article do anything but highlight how little they tested it for itself rather than as a direct comparison for the iPad.

    Before I get jumped on, I am not saying that RIMs idea was good or bad, but it does fit well with the corporate policies in making it easier to lock down how much users can adjust the configuration etc etc etc.

  11. RegisterThis

    Quite sad really ...

    At the outset, let me say I own neither a tablet, nor any iOS or Android devices (yet) - nor RIM device. I will be in the market for a new smartphone later this year and then it will probably be an Android (HTC Sense skinned) or the latest iPhone 5 by then. (In case you are wondering, I have a Nokia E72, which is my 1st - and will probably be my last Nokia)

    Currently, I grapple with the use-cases for owning a tablet. Money being no object, I would probably have bought an iPad 2 by now. I have played with both iPads (1 and 2), the Samsung Tab and the Blackberry playbook back at MWC in Barcelona earlier this year.

    Of these, my percpetion is that the iPAD is the most polished, but that the RIM had the most potential with by far the best and most flexible (but still easy to use) OS and UI (IMHO) by a long shot!

    VERY SADLY .... I think RIM have been either stupid or greedy or both!

    They have tried to launch this to either upsell to their existing customer base - or thought that they could force people to buy a blackberry as well.

    In doing so, they have ignored thier 2 USP's.

    1. As GIles Jones pointed out, they have push-email wrapped up

    2. BBM. It is arguable that this is the one item that has kept RIM in the smartphone market!

    This should have had proper 3G connectivity from the get-go and its own email / BBM client.

    The excuse trotted out months ago was around security. I don't buy that! Having email on it is NOT a security risk or an issue for corporate policies otherwise they would not allow email on any smartphone or laptop for that matter. This is so patently obvious that I think this was more greed than stupidity.

    * PS. In a sense the cirticisms are unfair as the iPad 1 was missing a lot of 'should have been' features at the launch. The difference, is as a pioneer with a new value proposition you can get away with missign features. As a late-to-market offering, you need (1) your unique value proposition, and (2) you won't be forgiven the glaring ommisions.

    1. jai

      not the only one

      but perhaps one of the few that didn't expect RIM to see what a stupid idea that was and come up with what their customers want and not what they thought they would want.

  12. NoneSuch


    >2. BBM. It is arguable that this is the

    >one item that has kept RIM in the

    >smartphone market!

    Ummm, no. It is the BES server that has done this. Having that level of security control and encryption of corporate communications and the flexibility to define your own IT and user policies is the reason RIM has survived until now.

    As for not having email on the new Playbook, that is just idiotic. All the first iteration of the Playbook needed to do was do web browsing and have MS Exchange integration with BES server back-end. Just that would have guaranteed corporate backing to the tune of hundreds of millions in sales.

    As it stands now, there is no way I can represent the Playbook to the executives in my company as a viable business communications tool.

    TOTAL fail.

    1. RegisterThis

      Good point ...

      I think that my view was that BBM is what has gotten them a following outside of the corporate market which they had pretty much owned and arguably saturated and was only there for the losing ... but I won't argue with the pro's of the BES for corporates ... but the only reason you see teens with the BB is for BBM ...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deja vu

    "hardware meets with approval, but is being let down by RIM's software"

    What they need is an ex-Microsoftee on the board who'll pay them like a billion dollars to stick WP7 on it! Can you imagine it? Wouldn't that be cool?

  14. Carol Orlowski

    Marking gone mad?

    Using the word Play in a product that has only ever had anything worthwhile (and even then that's debatable) to Business folk?

    This is destined to fail.

    Me, I'm waiting for a £350 Honeycomb Android 10.1 Wifi-only tablet with a MiniSD slot and capacitive touchscreen. Who gets this to market gets my money.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      Likely, the figured "PlayBook" would relate to (American) "football" and could be used in meetings and the like to suggest productivity and such (since the "playbook" has all your tactics and "plays"). Will it work that way? Likely not. Easier to say "It's a blackberry" and get instant "OOOoooo"s by your business associates. About the same as whipping out an iPad2 in a coffee shop will do.

      As for the 350(insert your currency here) Honeycomb 10.1" tablet, my money will quickly follow yours. My requirements for a tablet worth my money will be: dual core, 1GB RAM+, 16GB onboard storage (apps and whatnot), SD slot (32GB+ capable) for videos/music/docs (flash stick replacement potential basically), and capacitive touchscreen (obviously) with a decent viewing angle (where every tablet [minus iPad2 and a single Android tablet] so far fails). I'd even be willing to sacrifice 3D game performance for better battery life (retaining video decode and the like of course).

  15. Gordon 10 Silver badge


    That is all. Nuff Said.

  16. Stuart Duel
    Thumb Down

    What the majority of uses need

    Apple gets it right by offering the right mix of features that the majority of everyday users need. Their products aren't just slapped together, an enormous amount of thought goes into absolutely every minute detail, right down to balancing the weight of the device so it sits and feels comfortable in the hand.

    Where other manufacturers get it wrong, is to offer everything under the sun, regardless of whether the majority of users will ever use those features. They stick in a video out port, USB ports, SD slots, physical buttons here, there and everywhere. They add complexity, just because it's a way to differentiate or to add bullet points to a spec sheet, and the result is more weight, more things which can go wrong and more things which can break. They also produce multiple models which quickly get superseded and dead-ended by the latest version, resulting in poor support for owners of the previous models. People really don't want a bewildering array of models, as championed by the likes of Dell in the traditional computer space, each with only minor or incremental differences between them but wildly different physical designs which add no value to the product and no real benefit to the end user.

    More complexity means more support costs to the manufacturer and less money for R&D, testing, fine-tuning and divining the optimum user experience. Ultimately this leads to a poor product for the end user.

  17. Santonia
    Thumb Down

    Android laughing too...

    To Amaross and Carol - wanting the 10in Android HC tab - your luck is probably in wth the Acer Iconias and Asus Transformer. More or less £350 quid depending on your choice of voucher code and cashback site.

    As for the Playbook - I'm genuinely struggling with the marketing logic. First the kiddie friendly name, then the no-email decision. Well I guess it's a niche, albeit one with no market in it.

  18. Jay 2

    No email + No BBM = FAIL

    Corporate aside, I would assume that email and BBM are probably the main factors at why people buy a Blackberry handset.. Leaving them off their fondleslab offering is just asking to be laughed at.

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