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BlackBerry Tablet OS
Following up on the results of CrackBerry's Mega BlackBerry Survey, the next area to deep dive into is the section of questions directed at PlayBook tablet owners.
With official word coming during BlackBerry's recent earnings report that the PlayBook will not be receiving an update to BlackBerry 10, the active PlayBook community on CrackBerry pretty much went into a rage. On the earnings call we didn't receive too much information as to exactly why this decision was made, so heading to BlackBerry HQ for our annual visit we were hoping for some answers and closure, which we did receive.
The bottom line as we were told? While BlackBerry *could* have put BB10 on the PlayBook, the performance would have been so bad that you'd likely be wanting to downgrade to your existing OS, and CEO Thorsten Heins made a commitment to no longer deliver any sub par BlackBerry products to market.
Going back many months now to February 2013, I wrote a piece here on CrackBerry about How I'd like to see BlackBerry 10 come to the PlayBook. My feeling even then was that 1GB of RAM wasn't enough to run BB10 smoothly, so my suggestion and hope was that at least support for BB10 apps would make their way onto the PlayBook. Apparently, even though stripping down features to create more of a "BB10 Light" experience was investigated by the software team for the PlayBook, ultimately it just could not be done while delivering an acceptable level of performance.
That said, I'm still receiving emails on a daily basis telling me that we need to keep the pressure up on BlackBerry to bring some upgrades to the PlayBook. Looking at the survey results, it's easy to understand the passion and desire of the PlayBook owners in the community.
Key Highlights / Takeaways from the Survey Results:
Looking at the data, I think it's important to note that the results and feedback are representative of the most loyal and active BlackBerry users out there (regular readers of CrackBerry tend to fall into that category).
Several thousand responses were left to this question. The following ten responses are a representative sample of the full amount:
"Being a software developer, I completely understand why this needed to happen (or NOT happen, so to speak). However, I attribute this mishap to a lack of understanding of QNX's full capabilities of which I believe Blackberry should've known before even making the suggestion that the upgrade was possibly going to happen. The last thing you want is to get a user base all excited and then completely let down; especially when you're scratching and clawing your way to a distant 3rd place market share."
"I feel I was deceived. How I can trust Blackberry in future?"
"BBRY had plenty of experience with the dev alpha build (a literal mini-playbook) to see how well BB10 would really work on the PB's hardware, and yet they kept going and said it would come, only to change their minds. At the very least, a bone should have been thrown at PB owners with a "OS 2.2" launch entailing the browser, keyboard, and app compatibility."
"I am still a fan of BlackBerry I would just have liked to promise to have been fulfilled or the news to have been brought sooner about no upgrade - I may have bought another tablet while keeping my BBRY phone."
"I expected BlackBerry to continue to upgrade as much as possible that way their customers would have access to better technology. I was disappointed to find out I would no longer be able to connect my phone to my tablet. I thought BlackBerry would make the transition easier for everyone, but instead now I have no use for my PlayBook."
"I've been visiting CrackBerry a LOT lately b/c I'm excited about my Z10 (purchased on day 1). I don't add many comments, but I read the articles. I just keep seeing broken promises. I see good news and promises sometimes, but those are quickly followed with delays and broken promises (like no BB10 on Playbook). I'm starting to get frustrated w/ BB."
"The only thing I have to say is, BlackBerry should have been honest with PlayBook customers. The hardware is dated so it isn't surprising that BB10 isn't coming to the PlayBook. They should have not said that they were bringing it unless they were certain!"
"I can live with a "light" version of BB10 on PB due to hardware constraints, but there needs to be a BB10 tablet in the BB range. My choice of smartphone will depend on availability of a "matching" tablet. Besides that, the communication by BB about this has been dismal. Other than a "by the way" mention during the earnings call there has been no more info out of BB. Will PB be updated with parts of BB10 that will work? Is another tablet on the roadmap? Finally, the announcement at the earnings call was for shareholders. What about informing your users, BB? It's the promise you made them that you are breaking!"
"I think the whole "tablet market is difficult to make money at" line is a cop-out. IMHO it is necessary to have tablet options to have a complete eco-system available, at least to enterprise, to prevent people from relying on iPads and Android tablets and then desiring the same apps and experience on their phones. Also, if marketed right they should be able to make up any losses with their cut of app sales."
"When I bought my Playbook I new it was a whole new platform. There was no BB10 yet, if I remember correctly and as such I had no expectations of it being upgraded. However, I did expect the new platform to be 'it'. I expected it too be the platform that would be further developed. When I bought the Playbook I thought it to be decent for the price I paid for it (200 euros), however the experience was far from great. From the Desktop Manager to faulty native apps. There were hardly updates and I noticed using the Playbook less and less. Battery life was terrible as well, so using it on longer trips wasn't an option and as such the high capacity 64GB wasn't completely usable. The combination of this terrible Playbook experience -even given the lower price I paid- and lateron the promise that it WOULD be upgraded to BB10 made me become extremely dissatisfied with the way BB handled the entire communications regarding the Playbook and it's future. And since I'me more often buying into ecosystems rather than just a tablet or smartphone, the PB experience has had a very negative impact on my experience with BB as a company, despite my positive Z10 experience."
Looking through this feedback, it's clear that for the loyal PlayBook using fans, the vast majority are not happy. Many also understood that BB10 for the PlayBook ultimately was not in the cards, but even then those hoped for better and earlier communication on it.
Looking at the survey results above, it's clear that some damage has been done between BlackBerry and PlayBook customers based on the no BB10 on PlayBook decision. Here's a representative sample of the thousands of responses received of what PlayBook owners would like to see as a sign of good faith from the company to win back some love.
"Continue to upgrade the software. Continue to actively improve the product."
"I haven't really lost the goodwill, I just would like a little bit more appreciation and hope to achieve elite status. I'm still very much hopeful for the company."
"Fix the many bugs and hindrances in the current OS while porting the most popular App World Apps to the PlayBook's OS, otherwise bring BB10 to the PlayBook."
"Give me a credit toward whatever new Tablet they are working on. And if they are not working on a tablet, they are finished businesswise. It is necessary for the full ecosystem."
"Give me a $100 credit for app purchases on my PlayBook."
"Give PlayBook owners a subsidy toward an all touch device."
"At least give us a decent upgrade to the pbos, even version 2.2 or 3.0 would be better than nothing. Give us bridge for os10 phones, BBM groups, better browser with/o checkerboarding which feels like waterboarding at this point."
"At least acknowledge that they messed up big time with the Playbook as a product and with their communications as a company. Simple and plain. Everybody makes mistakes and this was a pretty big one. BB has been taking hits the past couple of years, but they made a mistake of dealing a blow to their own customers - old and loyal, but the new ones like me as well. In my case, some sort of compensation would be necessary to even consider the slightest in investing further in a BB ecosystem."
"It's l good. Just update Bridge with more functions between PlayBook and BB10 and we're cool."
"I think BB could save some face by releasing an update for the Playbook. Ok, so BB10 wont work, but improve the performance of the PB and customers would be happy."
Honestly, when I look at the BlackBerry 10 / PlayBook situation, I try and look at it from all sides. I've written before on this at length -- READ THIS ARTICLE. As CrackBerry Kevin and a PlayBook owner, I'd like to see BlackBerry try and do something more for PlayBook owners. As a shareholder, I'd want BlackBerry putting its focus on the future - and that means focusing on new products. And with a chairman of the board hat on, I see both - the need to retain my loyal base of users while trying to focus on the future.
And I think that's the take away from this survey. The loyal PlayBook user base, which is also a loyal BlackBerry 10 user base, needs some BlackBerry love, one way or another. Ideally, it feels like doing something to upgrade the PlayBook OS, even a little, would go along away. In lieu of that, some sort of good faith gesture. And certainly, moving forward, no users want to be facing this situation again of broken BlackBerry promises.