RIM's PlayBook could be the best tablet yet

Taylor Martin
 from  Concord, NC
| September 30, 2010

Over the past five years or so, RIM has gone from the businessman's phone, to basic end user's best friend, and back to where they came from without any major changes to their game. They began appealing to businessmen and women alike due to their enterprise support and far superior security. With features like BlackBerry Messenger, and excellent keyboards, their product leaked out of the business sector and swept the consumer market. Just a year or so after this happened the iPhone launched and raised the standard for a smartphone. Android is approaching two years of age, the iPhone is now on the fourth generation, and many BlackBerry users are growing tired of the same ol' thing.

RIM is notorious for being slow to change, but with the market swarming with innovations and amazing technology right now, it makes them appear to be adapting more slowly than usual.  Their most recent attempt at restoring customer faith and love with BlackBerry 6 was a nice approach, and like I've said many times before, a great temporary fix. Eventually (likely sooner rather than later) the refreshed OS will grow old and they will once again be in the same spot.

Not only has the market been stormed by phones, a new trend is taking place with tablets. First the iPad, followed by numerous rumored Android tablets (few of which have made it to the market). For months, rumors about a “BlackPad” have been seeping through the cracks left and right. Nothing concrete and nothing that really even began to grab my attention. I like my BlackBerry, but the OS is boring. I don't look to it for fun because it's business-centric, but it's an irreplaceable tool in my life. Having the BlackBerry OS expanded on to a tablet would just be ridiculous and in every way pointless.

As of this past Monday at RIM's DEVCON event, the BlackBerry PlayBook was announced. I was taken aback when I saw the specs and the actual device. RIM stepped up to the plate and as far as we can tell, they may have knocked this one out of the park. I don't know for sure right now, and I'll reserve my final opinion for when I get a PlayBook in my hands. RIM definitely snuck in the back door with this one though. They have created a tablet that carries a heavy spec sheet in comparison and an all new tablet OS developed by QNX Software Systems. From the super slick user interface to the sleek design, I'm thoroughly impressed. While I'm not a fan of the name, the PlayBook is a glimmer of hope in the giant's eye.

The good news from RIM doesn't end there either! It seems RIM has had some pretty major stuff going on behind closed doors. They seem to have been listening (as always). I wasn't alone when I wrote about Blackberry 6 being a great, temporary muse, and that RIM needs a complete overhaul of their current OS. On Monday, Alan Brenner, Senior Vice President at RIM, hinted at the OS being used on the Playbook may eventually make its way to their handhelds as well. If the QNX OS turns out to be as fluid and user friendly as the video teaser makes it out to be, this could be huge news for RIM. Since BlackBerry 6 has just released, I wouldn't expect to see the tablet OS on any handhelds for a while, but it's definitely something to hope for.  That said, if RIM plans to make this OS available on BlackBerry handsets, they're going to have to bring along some serious hardware upgrades, which will leave yet another series of current customers unhappy with unsupported devices. What do you guys think? Would the Playbook's OS function well on a smaller screen or would RIM be shooting themselves in the foot?

(Image via CNET)

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