The reviews for the BlackBerry PlayBook are coming out and the critics, although generally in favor of Reasearch In Motions’s (RIM) approach, don’t feel as though the PlayBook can save RIM in it’s current state. Now I’m not going to get into that topic in this post, but I do want to discuss the lack of certain “core” applications missing at launch from the BlackBerry PlayBook.
At launch, the BlackBerry PlayBook will ship without native e-mail, contacts, or calendar apps. It will also be without BlackBerry Messenger, a key feature to BlackBerry devices. RIM wanted to make BlackBerry a secure device out the box and therefore to have access to those features you must connect your BlackBerry device to the PlayBook. Given the fact that the first PlayBooks will be wi-fi only, this makes sense. It doesn’t make sense to have e-mail trying to be pushed to a device when there is no wi-fi connectivity. Why would I need to look up contacts when I can’t necessarily do anything with them when not in a wi-fi area (no call, text, e-mail. or bbm)? The only sore point to the missing core apps would be the lack of a calendar app, that does seem important. But lets take a closer look at the BlackBerry Bridge, the app that connects a BlackBerry to a PlayBook and why RIM went that route.
Reviewers are not keen to the idea that a PlayBook needs to have a BlackBerry to do key features. But this is nothing new to the technology world. RIM wants people in their ecosystem. This is no different than an Apple product (iPad, iPod, iPhone) needing to connect to iTunes, or an Android device needing a GMail address, or a Windows product needing a Hotmail/Live address. The makers of these products want you within their ecosystem. Why should RIM be any different?
People can argue that needing a particular type of e-mail address is completely different than needing a particular type of device, but one can lead to the other. Once you’re within an ecosystem, you want to have the devices that go along with that ecosystem so you can the best service out of your connected devices. When Android first arrived on the scene with the G1, I was very excited to get one becasue I was a heavy user of Google products (Google Maps, Gmail, Google Search, Google Reader, Chrome). I was within the Google ecosystem and wanted to get the most out of these products therefore I thought Android was the perfect solution at that time. I know of people who want Windows Phone 7 devices becasue they loved their Zunes and have an Xbox; they are within the Mircosoft ecosystem. My sister-in-law was a blackberry addict (much like my wife), but she really wanted an iPad. She waited and got the iPad 2 on the first day it came out. She is in love with her iPad, she loved the apps, the browser, the way it looked. Everything. I talked to her last week, she had gotten rid of her BlackBerry and is now an iPhone user. Apple lured her into their ecosystem, just as the Big Bad Wolf did with Little Red Riding Hood. RIM is not in the wrong for offering users of their products the best expirence, and if you want the best expirence then you will use their products. In the buisness world, it is far less expensive to keep a customer than to get new ones. Also once a consumer has purchased multiple products within one ecosystem then they are less likley to leave it. RIM knows this and is leveraging their current customer base to stay in the BlackBerry army and not defect to battlefields of Android or iOS.
In my expirence, people are purchasing tablets to browse the web, play games, maybe watch some movies on a larger screen. Tablets are eating away at the sales of netbooks, becasue they were serving very similar purposes. If people are looking at those features (web browsing, playing games, media, etc) and even some document creation and editing then the PlayBook is going to be great device right out of the box. The PlayBook is a solid device and RIM is headed in the right direction with their new OS and ecosystem strategy.