Feb 08

RIM held an event in London for its UK debut of the Playbook. The event was being held in partnership with Adobe who was heavily pushing the Flash capabilities of the device.

Alan Banks from Adobe made a brief introduction and handed over to Stephen Bates UK RIM MD.

Stephen described RIM migration from being wholly business focused to also consider consumers and their use of RIM’s devices. the Playbook would be able view the full internet as it was meant to be i.e. with Flash taking a poke at Apple and it no Flash on devices strategy. Where Blackberry differentiates:

- Full web

- Multitasking

- Class leading media

- Blackberry bridge (with its handsets)

- Tablet OS QNX

Stephen exclaimed he was ‘blown away’ on a number of occasions with regards the above list. Very enthusiastic about their new device!

Media wise we can expect HD video recording from the front and back camera’s ( I assume 720p), HDMI out and an ebook reader. There was more but nothing that caught my attention.

Blackberry Bridge will support secure pairing with Blackberry devices. The Playbook will be able to provide a window into the data on the phone. This data will not be stored locally and so the data will be secure on the handset.

The device will support HTML5 and Flash 10.1 out of the box. WebWorks will also be available for developers for web/cloud app development using HTML/CSS/Javascript as other manufacturers are offering with webkit browsers on board.

Some stats 2010:

Blackberry was the number 1 Smartphone brand in the UK

UK is the second largest market outside the US comprising 12% of total revenue.

Blackberry held 36% of the UK Smartphone market as of December 2010

Overall this was 14% of the UK market

Super apps concept was launched and has been very successful with LinkedIn, Sky and Ebay all having deeply integrated apps on devices utilising calendar, phonebook and email functionality as part of their apps.

Overall there are 55 million data subscribers, 30 million of which have active download accounts.

Appworld sees 3 million apps downloaded per day.

There are 33 million Blackberry Messenger subscribers.

Given that the UK market is so important and to encourage UK developers onto the platform RIM have decided to give a Playbook (for free) to anyone that can have an app approved on Appworld before the Playbook launch in March. See link here for terms and conditions.

The Demo

Multiscreen, multitasking. You can see whats running on a carousel and choose the app that you want to use or go back to. Interestingly when a video was running it was still playing whilst in the background on the carousel, nice touch and shows some of the power of the device. It can play 1080p video and I assume that you can then also watch said video on TV via HDMI. App world would be preloaded.

The Adobe guys went through the Flash components an what could be achieved. the Photo gallery is built using Flash and the Playbook was built around the ‘power of Flash’. There is native extension support for ‘C’ code for when you want that extra grunt for you apps.

The RIM guys then went through almost every app on the device. If you have an iPad then there were no surprises in terms of apps pre loaded.

Interestingly they did not show off the bridge functionality, are they having problems with it? You would have thought that this would be a key USP for them and would be showing it working to as many people as they can.

There were six devices available to play with, unfortunately there were lots of people there and i did not get a chance for a hands on.

Is it an iPad Killer?

I have an iPad, and love it. I do wonder on the train sometimes whether a 7 inch version would be more convenient but that that is the only time the size bothers me. Having used an iPhone and iPad for the last two years I have learnt to live without Flash so that is not a big plus for me. I have recently been playing with a Nexus S which runs Flash. First website I came across that needed Flash it dutifully ran off to Adobe and identified what download I needed and installed it. It needed the Flash for the ads that were blinking at me on the page, using my battery and my data allowance. Not funny.

I had great hopes for this device and did view it as a potential iPad killer. HDMI, 1080p video, Blackberry Bridge. But I worry that it is too late. I think the Blackberry Bridge idea is brilliant but only for Blackberry owners, which I accept, and if it works well enough I may even be tempted. But on the day it was not shown. This made me curious as to why, as it is such a key feature.

With the dual core LG, Honeycomb running, Android tablet, with 3D, just weeks away I worry that they may just have missed the boat. With the Playbook being more  capable than an iPad (it is dual core after all) it is a shame it did not reach us sooner. Other than the iPad the only competition currently is the Galaxy Tab. Playbook wins that one in my opinion. Only time will tell.

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