SMARTPHONE MAKER Research in Motion (RIM) has shown off its tablet device called the Blackberry Playbook in the US with a cocktail splashed party but apparently an inferior product.
Some might have expected the firm to throw a party, but although there were cocktails at the event it was light on big speeches, which was probably wise because the last time RIM took to the public arena it sulked off halfway through.
Earlier this week during an interview with the BBC, CEO Mike Lazrides took offence to a line of questioning about the firm's disputes with various governments, a topic that must have been on a 'do not mention' list that somehow did not find its way to his BBC host.
"That's not fair. You implied we had a security problem," said Lazaridis before walking out. "We've just been singled out because we're so successful around the world. It's an iconic product."
Whether a big fanfare would have improved the device's reception is moot, as early looks suggest that it comes up lacking when compared against other 7-inch tablets and is more of a trial run for the Canadian firm than a finished product.
"I've just come from RIM's launch event for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The tablet has evolved since CES, but my impressions of it remain the same. In short, it's a racecar that's missing a wheel," said Forrester's Sarah Rottman Epps on her blog.
Most bizarrely, and most open to criticism is the mysterious lack of an email client, which surely would have been on any list of features expected on a Blackberry device. Although Blackberry handsets can communicate with the Playbook using Bluetooth, other users will have to make do with webmail.
"The PlayBook is a powerful device with solid hardware, lighter and more compact than the iPad. But by requiring a Bluetooth connection to a BlackBerry phone for basic applications like email, calendar, and IM, RIM has sacrificed consumer-friendliness for CIO peace-of-mind," added Rottman Epps.
So, it looks like the Blackberry Playbook tablet has missed the Ipad trick of being sort of business friendly and having definite consumer appeal, for now at least.
RIM will release the Blackberry Playbook on 19 May. µ
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