Why is RIM launching a Facebook application before stock apps?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| May 2, 2011

Even before Research In Motion’s first tablet device, the BlackBerry PlayBook officially hit store shelves, there were questions: would the device be the true iPad killer? Would the specifications matter to the developers in the world? And would RIM really launch a tablet device obviously aimed at the business world without stock apps like calendar, contacts and mail? These and other questions were all answered (some of them relatively, based on user experience and needs) when the tablet finally landed in stores a few weeks ago. But now that BlackBerry World has kicked off, and the PlayBook’s future came into light, there’s even more questions ready to be asked. Primarily, is RIM really going to launch a Facebook application before they release those missing stock apps?

First, let’s point out that Research In Motion is also launching a video calling application, too. In fact, the video chat app is set to launch on May 3rd, sent to current PlayBook owners through an over the air (OTA) update. This is a great addition to the device, there’s no doubt about that, and while it may not have been available right out of the box, at least it’s coming less than a month after the tablet’s launch. That’s a good step in the right direction.

Second, we have to ask ourselves if we’re willing to give RIM some breathing room here. After all, this is the company’s first tablet device, and so this is new ground for them. But, the tablet market isn’t new, so to speak. Apple’s already got their tablet devices out the door, and Android’s mobile platform is all over the place in this particular segment. So, launching a tablet in today’s market may not leave much room for breathing if mistakes are made.

Now, there’s the fact that the first “tablet optimized” Facebook application is coming sometime in May, and it’s launching on the BlackBerry PlayBook. This in of itself is huge news, considering even tablets like the iPad and Motorola XOOM don’t have “tablet optimized” Facebook applications. This is huge news for RIM, as they get to say they were the first with the app, and considering how many people love Facebook, it’s a good notch in their belt to have. But, there’s a chance that it’s launching before the stock apps that the PlayBook is missing, and that just seems fundamentally wrong on so many levels.

Why aren’t these stock apps being released with the OTA update that’s bringing video calling to the PlayBook? Is it not possible? Or does RIM think they still need to work on these applications that are, for the most part to some customers, essential to owning a digital device like a tablet? If that’s the case, perhaps they should come forward and say that. Instead, we’re just left wondering what’s going on, and wondering when these apps will make an appearance.

Do you think RIM’s on the right track here? Or should they make the missing stock applications a priority, and at least try to get them out before they release a social media application like Facebook? Do you think the first “tablet optimized” Facebook application launching on the PlayBook is a big deal? Will it warrant a purchase from you? Let me know in the comments below.

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