At a Developers Conference in San Francisco on Monday, Research in Motion, the Canadian-based manufacturers of the BlackBerry smartphone series, announced their entry into the tablet market with the BlackBerry PlayBook. As it’s being pitted against the five-hundred pound gorilla iPad, RIM has opted to emphasize the business compatibility of its model in comparison to Apple’s more consumer-based offering. The hand-sized PlayBook will feature the ability to render webpages with full Adobe flash support, connect to external projectors and monitors, and contains out-of-the-box compliance with business security infrastructures used by worried companies to regulate BlackBerry smartphone use. Unlike the iPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook will not support cellular data services, but will feature full WiFi support, as well as Internet connectivity through a bluetooth network and the user’s BlackBerry.
Surprisingly, many details of the device were left out of the announcement, most noticeably the price of the PlayBook. Very little of the operating system was showcased as well, with animations instead of hands-on examples being used to demonstrate the PlayBook’s functionality. RIM has been heckled for its increasingly lackluster BlackBerry operating system, as noted by Engadget in their review of the BlackBerry Torch-the most recent smartphone offering by Research in Motion. The aging system left some feeling as if new devices would need a rebooted and rewritten operating system to sustain the company’s place in the device market.
This, apparently, included RIM.
The new PlayBook will feature a completely redone operating system coded by QNX Software Systems, a subsidiary of Harman International which RIM acquired earlier this year. Although exact details of the new operating system’s inner details were not given at the BlackBerry DevCon, one can only assume the PlayBook will feature rock-solid e-mail support and other organizational necessities required by business moguls. The interface conjures images of Palm’s Web OS, with card-style application switching and true-multitasking. As advertised on Research in Motion’s website, the PlayBook will also feature 3-D graphics with 1080p HD and face-to-face video Internet chat. Amazon has also announced they will be releasing a Kindle app for the device as soon as it hits market, coming into direct competition with both the iPad and other dedicated e-readers, such as Barnes and Noble’s Nook.
No release date has been give yet for the BlackBerry PlayBook.
According to BlackBerry’s Tech Blog, the PlayBook will not only ship with an Amazon Kindle application, but Kobo eBook, as well. The Kobo app will offer over 2.2 million titles, and will connect automatically to BlackBerry Messanger to make book reading social and engaging. For more information, check out the official RIM press release.
Ian Austen, “Maker of BlackBerry Introduces Tablet.” New York Times