Nearly a year after launch, Research in Motion has finally released a software update for the BlackBerry Playbook which fixes the products many failings.
RIM announced that the free operating system update is available for download immediately, through the device’s own software update function.
"The new BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 introduces a range of new communications and productivity enhancements as well as expanded app and content support," said David J. Smith, SVP Mobile Computing, Research In Motion.
RIM claims the long promised email and calendar functionality is included. Blackberry Phones can also now be used as a mouse and keyboard for the Playbook, and a new video store has been added to the BlackBerry App Store, alongside the Android App emulator that will allow Android apps to work on the device.
The company massively overhyped the Playbook as the ‘iPad killer’ when it launched in April last year, and awkwardly positioned the device as a mixed half-consumer, half-enterprise device. Neither party went for the device with much enthusiasm.
Most importantly for enterprise users, it was missing basic email and calendar functionality – the key to the entire BlackBerry corporate empire.
RIM now claims that long delayed Playbook OS2.0 has fixed these problems – nearly a year since its initial launch.
Originally, email functionality was made available by linking a Blackberry smartphone to the tablet, but this mostly defeated the purpose of having a separate tablet. Apple’s iPad and all the Android tablets have no such problems with their email or calendar functions. Unsurprisingly, these devices are the leaders in the budding market.
As a result of these failings, the Playbook’s sales collapsed after the initial buzz, which lead to 700,000 tablets sitting on shelves unsold. The company wrotedown $485m in Playbook inventory, and pursued an aggressive pricing strategy before Christmas selling the devices at a loss.
This began a fundamental rethink of the company’s tablet and smartphone strategy under new CEO Thorsten Heins.
This effective ‘relaunch’ of the Playbook is the first big step in a new year for RIM, after an appalling 2011, which saw more than three quarters of the company’s value erased, the company’s two CEOs stepping down, rumour of an outright purchase by its rivals, and the endless delays of its new BlackBerry 10 software – which will run its next generation of devices – and are desperately needed to compete with Apple and Google’s Android. It has also announced Playbook 2 – which may be causing an Osborne Effect; that is users waiting for the newer devices at the expense of current sales.
RIM has also been aggressively chasing app developers to help fix the company’s dire App Store and eco-systems surrounding its hardware.
CBR will be reviewing the new OS shortly.
RIMs claimed feature list for Playbook OS 2.0
– Integrated email client with a powerful unified inbox
– Social Integration with Calendar and Contacts apps.
– Updated BlackBerry Bridge app – includes BBM, Email, Contacts, Calendar and Browser viewable on the tablet display.
– A new remote control feature that allows a BlackBerry smartphone to be used as a wireless keyboard and mouse for a BlackBerry PlayBook.
– Improved mobile productivity. Updated document editing functions. Updated virtual keyboard with auto correction and predictive text.
– Thousands of new apps are being added to BlackBerry App World today (including the Android emulator that will run Android Apps). The new BlackBerry Video Store is launching today. Enhanced web browsing capabilities are also available.