At a launch party in New York City, Research in Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) unveiled the BlackBerry PlayBook, its answer to the iPad.
But reviews have been stinging. Critics point out that at launch it lacks critical functions like email, calendars, contacts and other apps without a BlackBerry smartphone. Some say the company seemed to have rushed the device to market.
Even before customers can buy it next week, the focus is on software updates and the company is being vague about those. This from Research in Motion North American Managing Director Craig McLennan:
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“We haven’t been public with the timelines but you know that we’ve got you know thousands of developers that are working around the clock on continuously improving the user experience and you know evolving it with again the expected needs of the customer.”
The 7-inch WiFi-only PlayBook is priced in line with Apple’s 10-inch iPad, and faces tough competition from other tablet devices as well. But BlackBerry is touting its tight security features as it tries to appeal to its traditional business clients but bring in consumers as well.
The PlayBook did get some praise from analysts because it handles Flash websites smoothly and it can multi-task well, something iPads can’t do.
According to Kevin Burden of ABI Research:
“The video capabilities are stellar, the graphics are great. The 3D gaming is actually very impressive. The simple fact that its WiFi-only it does hamper it a little bit, but if you think about the mobile professional and how they want to use this device pairing it with their BlackBerry it’s a very compelling use case.”
The playing field for tablets is growing. But with the iPad already hitting home runs, the pressure is on for BlackBerry’s rookie PlayBook to score with both businesses and consumers.
Bottom line: Research in Motion’s eagerly anticipated tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, launched to mostly dismal reviews, criticizing its lack of features including e-mail and other apps.