The Fate of the BlackBerry PlayBook: Bright Future? Graveyard? Wonky Life of Licensing? All of the above??

BlackBerry PlayBook's Fate?
By Kevin Michaluk on 15 Sep 2011 03:54 pm EDT

With a Research In Motion earnings announcement and investors call happening later today (we'll be live blogging it at 5pm ET here on the CrackBerry blogs), per usual we're seeing the stories ramp up on the internet as analysts start voicing their predictions about how RIM is doing and what the future holds. I always like reading these stories. I talk to a lot of analysts on a regular basis (they reach out to me as they know I know my sh!t), so it's fun to see which ones say things that line up with my thinking, and which ones say things that I don't agree with (overall, I have a pretty solid track record for getting things right).

In regards to the BlackBerry PlayBook, the last 24 hours has produced a couple of interesting analyst quotes, which I think make it worth me following up and adding my thirty six cents on. Brian Blair from Wedge Partners wrote in one of his notes:

Last quarter RIM talked about shipping 500,000 units but did not speak of sell-through for obvious reasons... Channel fill could turn up another decent shipment number this year in the 500,000 - 700,000 unit range but we believe sell-through has been weak enough that that number will trend down over the year and RIM will likely send the PlayBook into the same graveyard as the HP TouchPad.

A few short sentences, but Blair makes a pretty big claim in pointing to the death of the PlayBook. On the shipments, I agree - RIM sales haven't materialized to the extent RIM was hoping. Back on June 14th leading up to RIM's last earnings announcement, I wrote an article called I've got a feeling... that BlackBerry PlayBook sales are not having a good time where I predicted based on my evidence that the number of actual PlayBook owners out there in the world was under 200,000. On that earnings call RIM said they had shipped 500,000 units (that's what they sent to stores - not what was sold). Since then, RIM has launched the PlayBook in a lot more markets - so I'm sure they've shipped quite a few more PlayBooks this quarter, but again from my standpoint I don't think RIM has seen a lot of uptake in PlayBook ownership these past three months. Looking at all the metrics I can tap into from the operation of a site like CrackBerry (where we get a pretty good understanding of the demand and the success of individual BlackBerry products) I really don't think there are a lot more PlayBook owners now than there were three months ago. 

On the last call RIM's Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said he didn't know the number of actual PlayBook owners (he just had the shipment numbers), but obviously that is data RIM knows very well. With BBID registration required upon PlayBook startup and OTA updates, RIM knows exactly how many PlayBook owners there are and how many are actively updating the OS. Suffice to say, if this question gets asked tonight on the earnings call, I hope the answer given isn't "we don't know."  I'd rather hear we know, but aren't going to tell you. Again, I don't think there are all that many PlayBook owners out there - so wouldn't be shocked to hear that be the case even if RIM did divulge that information.

So **assuming** BlackBerry PlayBook sales haven't been that stellar to date and that there aren't all that many active BlackBerry PlayBook users out there in the world, what does that mean for the future of the BlackBerry PlayBook? Is Blair right in saying that it'll go the way of the TouchPad to the tablet graveyard?

Personally, I don't think the PlayBook will head to the tablet graveyard anytime soon. But at the same time, that doesn't mean its future is rosy and bright and that we'll see generation after generation of new PlayBook hit the market as we see happen on the phone side. RIM, like webOS, like Android, is having relative trouble in the tablet space compared to Apple and their success with the iPad. For RIM, selling tablets has a been a challenge compared to selling phones (and making money at it a bigger challenge - I don't think they have been successful in that department at all on the PlayBook). Part of this can be blamed on the PlayBook being a little incomplete at launch and its initial reviews being lackluster (even our PlayBook Review was a bit harsh), but I think maybe the bigger reasoning here is that what we have today isn't a tablet market, but an iPad market. 

Back when I visited Waterloo, I actually had the opportunity to talk to a bunch of the members of the PlayBook team in one of their biweekly townhall meetings (probably ~50 people). It was an awesome experience, and I relayed to the team some of my outsider/blogger perspective and feedback on the PlayBook to date. And one of the things I talked about was just this -- that I don't think there even is a fully developed tablet market yet. Normal average people are not waking up on a Saturday morning and saying to themselves "I want to buy a tablet today.. better hit the net and research which one is the best." The majority are waking up and saying I'm going to buy an iPad today. You get this which should I buy? behavior with developed product categories like desktop computers, laptops, digital cameras and cell phones, but with the new era of tablets it's still very much a single-product game... an iPad game. Apple got the first mover advantage in breathing new life into tablets, and it's making it very hard for everybody else. Of course the enthusiasts and early adopter/techy type people are looking at tablets beyond the iPad, but for the average consumer that need for a generic tablet (whatever the manufacturer) still isn't there. The world existed for a long time without everybody needing or wanting a tablet, so it's really been Apple's product getting people's attention more than category creating a massive need (though at a $99 price point a lot of people don't care who makes it - as evidenced by the TouchPad firesale).

So if you're RIM, where do you go from here? You have to remember - sending a device to the graveyard admits defeat. And RIM doesn't like to do that. Plus it's still early in the "new" tablet game - so there's hope. Part of me thinks in retrospect RIM wished they put their first tablet on hold and just poured all that time and effort into getting QNX phones to market. But what's done is done, so thinking like I know RIM likes to think (not admitting defeat, and not giving up), here's how I'm predicting we will see things play out:

  • Tablet OS 2 Update: As I already blogged this would happen and we've seen some follow up leaks occur, RIM will release a Tablet OS 2.0 update for the PlayBook.  It'll be the same PlayBook hardware (which is awesome) and this will address all of the feature gaps that were there at launch and also introduce a bunch of new features. Native email, Android app support and a bunch of other stuff will be there (hopefully we'll see stuff like DLNA support for wirless video streaming and the ability to type on your PlayBook with your Bold 9900's amazing keyboard!).
  • PlayBook w/ radio (Winchester) released: From what I can gather, RIM is still planning on releasing versions of the existing 7" PlayBook with a radio in it for carriers to sell. With Tablet 2.0 software and a data plan, this updated PlayBook becomes a pretty compelling package in the marketplace. What's with the Winchester name? Apparently that's the codename for this one. RIM goes through phases with their codenames and apparently they got on a gun kick... remember the Magnum? And now the Colt (QNX touchscreen phone) and the Winchester (PlayBook w/ radio). A carrier re-launch of the PlayBook will get extra life out of RIM's current PlayBook efforts to date.
  • Licensing the BlackBerry Tablet OS to other tablet manufacturers/car companies: And here's where I think the PlayBook's future gets a little crazy. For a while we started hearing rumors about RIM working on a 10" BlackBerry PlayBook. Then we heard the rumors that the 10" PlayBook got scrapped. We also haven't been hearing rumors of updated hardware for a 7" PlayBook (honestly, the hardware as it is now is awesome). So what's this all mean? To me it means that RIM doesn't see a clear path to making profit in the tablet space. Even on BlackBerry Smartphones they're having a tough time keeping their hardware costs down, and I'm guessing with lower than expected volumes it's even tougher on tablets. So where does that put the BlackBerry Tablet OS in the future? I'm thinking down the road we may see RIM actually license the PlayBook out to other manufacturers to build tablets running the tablet OS. I know it seems crazy, and I don't see them going this route with their phones any time soon, but in the tablet space I don't think it's that far of a stretch. The reason? Cars.

    QNX has a long history in automotive, and I could see RIM/QNX happily letting automotive companies work to put the BlackBerry Tablet OS into their onboard computer/infotainment systems (back at BlackBerry World I just got winks whenever I asked this question when getting demos of the latest incar QNX/BlackBerry offerings). So if you're going to let automotive companies put the Tablet OS into cars, wouldn't the next step be to let computer/electronics hardware manufacturers put it on their own tablets? Example: I picked up a cheap Acer Aspire Windows 7 laptop last week for one of our new developers to use.... is an Acer tablet with the BlackBerry Tablet OS that far a stretch? Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. A move like this would turn RIM in tablets into more of a software OEM than a hardware manufacturer, but it would allow them to keep more of their focus on phones, which a move like this would allow them to do (and they wouldn't have to worry as much about losses in the tablet space as their risk would be shared/less). It seems odd given that tablets these days are a lot like phones -- only bigger -- but I'm used to seeing odd things from RIM. A strategy like this would allow for RIM to keep growing their BlackBerry footprint in the mobile space, but in a way that doesn't put the manufacturing burden and costs on them. And in the distant future, if they want to re-visit building tablet hardware again with follow up versions of the PlayBook or something else, that will always be an option.
Add it all up and I think it's a stretch to say that the PlayBook/Tablet OS is going to the graveyard anytime soon (especially since the Tablet OS is evolving to be similiar/one with the QNX phone OS). The future doesn't tell a straight forward story at this point, and things could get pretty muddled, but I think it'll find a way as noted above and RIM will continue to evolve their efforts to match the market conditions. All I know is that the PlayBook is powerful as it is and I think the Tablet OS v2 software is going to make it way better, so I sure hope it continues to sell and find its place in the market. It would be extremely sad to see it wind up with a fate like the TouchPad. 

Reader comments

The Fate of the BlackBerry PlayBook: Bright Future? Graveyard? Wonky Life of Licensing? All of the above??


Ughhh No! i really like this Device, and i dont give a damn what other say about it.

Lets See the 2.0V and when it will relies the 4g LTE version of the PB i will buy that one to.

LIKE!! :)

I think PB 2.0 and 3G/4G will bring new life to the PlayBook. Don't forget folks, that the PlayBook is not that useful to those without BlackBerrys. RIM needs the 3G/4G version, and native email & calendar will make it more attractive, especially if they add Android support!

All tablets sales are suffering. Folks are going into stores to buy an iPad not a tablet. RIM has to change that by getting 2.0 out fast in October!!

The PlayBook will rise again!


agreed, I just spent a week away from the office and spent 90% of my computing time on my PlayBook. BB Bridge is amazing, next time laptop stays home!

Blackberry is big in many markets where Apple isn't. I would not say last rites over it just yet. People (aka you Americans) need to remember sometimes that the sun doesn't revolve around the good ole you ess of ay.

This is true in south america and central americawere most than 80% of all phones not only smartphones are blackbery and there is no one with less than 50 bbm contacts (the major reason to buy a Blackberry here). Androids and specially iphones don't stand a chance as even the carriers are co.pletly blackberry biased making special offers and a reduction of the price of the data for blackberry users. One thing that I would do if I was RIM is bring the new phones the faster possible as the appearence of Androids and the new tech is turning some heads on people as they continue to sell OS5 and few OS6 models. RIM wake up this is your marketto exploit!!!

Sorry Kevin, but this isn't logical. It is more likely that the OS will head to the graveyard than license in other tablets or cars. A couple of things..

1.) Have you seen the discounts? 50% off at Staples, $219 at Staples, 100 GC..Granted, this is only for certain customers, but deep discounts this close to launch can't spell well for the future.
2.) How many customers that walk by have no idea how to turn it on? How are you going to license it to cars? Much more likely a user-friendly and easily learned experience, like iOS, gets the license in cars. At least for the bigger picture anyway.
3.) The Android OS is free. Why would someone pay RIM and QNX to use this OS? I don't care how good it is. And, NO ONE wants to develop for it. Free Android or Paid QNX. hmmm

Sorry Kevin, but it's not a stretch that it ends up the same fate or close to it as Web OS.

What would happen if next week one of the largest automotive companies in the world and RIM signed a contract?

You better send a gift to the Oracle!! Market analysts should also be bowing to the almighty Kevin!

LOL, you started strong with your first point, but then your trollism deflated your argument.
On point #2 I would like to know why iOS is more friendly than QNX. I believe that people don't know how to wake the PB up is because apple (as Kevin says, with some first move advantage) made people believe the bezel can't be touch responsive. If they had implemented it, people would be all crazy with bezel swipe> So I don't think it's a matter of user-friendliness there, it's about teaching people how to use your product. That's what instructions are for and that is why the PB comes with a tutorial on first turn on.
On point #3... well, QNX is RIM related. For some people (bussiness people, precisely. Yeah, those ones that make decisions on how and when to spend money) RIM equals to security. Also, open source opens a certain taboo of non-reliability (which is a shame, because even apple trusts its service desk to Red Hat, Linux-related OS). If I were a car manufacturer, the OS for my tablet would be a reliable one that can offer security of the vehicle's information and also access communications for the services I offer, like dial to help desk and such.
Anyway, like I said the 1st point is a truth that can't be ignored, but the other two points are too subjective and I believe that RIM/QNX does have some future in the OEM SW development

right, the Playbook is more user friendly than an Ipad...

Which would a 70 year old think is easier to use? There is no way the Playbook is more user friendly than an Ipad. Sorry.

why would a 70 year old use a tablet? People at that age using such "modern" gadgets are mostly too technical to be considered mainstream or casual users

Well if you are talking about licensing it to cars, 70 year olds still use cars no? There's not an age restriction on who can drive right?

So if you are talking about puting a tablet in cars, I just assume that the person driving it will use it at some point, no?

I'm not sure how to describe user friendly-ness, but here it goes. My dad just got an iphone. From day 1 of getting it, he knows how to use it. He knows how to make phone calls, use apps, listen to music, turn it off and on, etc.
(the ipad uses the same software an iphone uses if you weren't aware)

But, put my dad in front of a Playbook, and he will be lost. Once he enters an app, he'll have no idea what to do.

That is how you explain userfriendly-ness...And sorry, no one in their right mind thinks the Playbook is more userfriendly than the ipad

It is more user friendly than an iPad. How many people actually know without telling them that you push the button twice to multi-task on an iPad and three times to get to negative mode? There is a learning curve to everything, people just learned the single round button approach first. The UI on the PB makes the iPad look ancient.

just got mine yesterday (16gb $400 on Amazon and $100 rebate coming of course)

loving it so far - definitely a powerful tablet, no hardware or OS issues at all, just not widely known yet. I agree the tablet market is in its infancy and I think it's also very price sensitive. No way I pay $500 for one - but $300 and I'm in

Couldn't agree more, I bought mine for $500 and I recently bought my kid a netbook for $159. The netbook has Windows which is infinitely more mature and stable (yes I said stable). The PlayBook is cool and fun and some part of me is compelled to use it, own and love it, but the price should be about half despite the cost of phones.

I think we'll have to wait until the earnings call today until we get any perspective on what the future holds for the playbook. That being said, there are a handful of days left in the summer. RIM still has not changed its position that native email and the android player will be released before the end of summer. They seriously have to say something about this or im going to snap. I bought my playbook the first week and if I knew "summer" actually meant mid-october I would have never paid $700 for it in the first place. Im hoping the bridge update is a sign that an OS update will arrive soon but one can never be certain. When 60 days passed since launch I complained and was told by people on this site i was a whiner. 90 days i was a major whiner. 120 days same deal. I just want features that were promised so I can use this thing how I want to.

Dude I wouldn't be surprised that I was one of those calling you a whiner but I couldn't agree more. I love my playbook but also purchased it based on promises. I'm not so much worried about native email and calendar for myself. I'm not even worreid about native bbm since I have the new bold. I'm looking for more of the "leave no little rock over turned.". Meaning the little thingd like auto spell check, easy ways to transfer files from the playbook to my phone (to do storage on my future 32gb micro), the unleashing of what TAT can do (photos and media player need some spark) and last but not least MORE NATIVE APPS. More podcast selections wouldn't hurt either.

Long story short, I love my playbook but if it doesn't do the things promised originally then I did overpay and would like to keep it but would need RIM to forfeit at least half of what I paid. If 2.0 is all its breing built up to be then the playbook will be the first format where others may fall in love with the little things that has had me hooked to Blackberry.

This tablet market sure looks a lot like the console market.... See where Microsoft came in with the first XBox.... Everybody was like "they're crazy!" Now the XBox 360 was a better machine (albeit it's problems) than the first one and it's market share isn't bad....

I think this tablet market is the same.... and yeah, it might be dominated by Apple at the moment... But somebody, somewhere, sometime will figure out there is an alternative to the big brand name. :P

That's just my 2 cent on always liking and loving the underdog. ;)

I like my PlayBook, it's not finished but hell: I choose a PlayBook eventho I knew it's deficiencies...... I like what it does already and really hope and want it to get better!

I bought mine second day of relies, and i had to go trough all the crap bugs and hours of frustration why this is not working why i dont have this and that APP, and at the end of the day this device proven to be a very POWERFUL device, i dont know if im gonna change it with something else (ipad,Samsung,hp).

IF RIM comes out with the new Device 4g LTE im gonna buy that one to, and i will go trough all the bugs again if is necessary cause i know at the end of the day it will get better and better, but we have to stop whine and submit feedback in order to get better.

I like this POWERFUL device.

on the console analogy, remember the XBOX 360 came first in that generation. Does the RROD ring any bells? Damn, how I wish that kinda happened with the iPad xD

Hehehe... I got spared the RROD on my XBox 360... It did have the scratching of gamediscs and well.. to be honest... it's my 4th since launch... but I stood by it and still enjoy it. :D

It'll be fine. RIM has done a good job with the Playbook hardware (which is a lot of work). They had their hands full with huge hardware and software development hurdles, which was adding lots of cost. If they can focus on their phones, maintain their Tablet OS on the Playbook hardware for a while, they can mature the OS enough to make it viable for other manufacturers to take over the hardware part (unless RIM can find a way to make money on the hardware side).

You know, everyone's going to agree that the PB hardware is stellar, but the fact remains that without decent software, the best device in the WORLD isn't going to make it in the marketplace.

I'm sorry to see the system software revision is being pushed back, because this device DESPERATELY needs some good press right now. I hope RIM knows what they're doing.

I love my PB. I'm trying my hand at developing a new kind of task manager for it, but I don't have any illusions right now. It's not looking great.

The thing about the PB is that its not based on media hype, this is a very serious piece of kit, even with all the various app related disadvantages, i've had mine for 4 days and its like running my life!!

When OS 2.0 gets released, bloggers, analysts and consumers will have a hard time finding any flaws with the PlayBook, other than it doesn't have an Apple on the back. If RIM is still selling the Storm 2, I think it will be a cold day in hell before they give up on the PlayBook. And it will be an even frostier day in hell when I stop loving mine and using it every day!

I love RIM, and I hate to say this but I am eagerly waiting for the BlackBerry PlayBook to sink just so I can purchase it at a discount price. I've been looking online and the price on a PlayBook is like stock, it goes up a few bucks, then it goes down.

But if anything I am also eagerly waiting for the Bold 9900 on AT&T.

OK so I was thinking of a last and final option (OEM'ing QNX seems a little extreme).

RIM's #1 business is phones. Ignoring their Playbook strategy for a second, they could bring a BRIDGE APP to other platforms. What does this mean? Basically, create a Blackberry Bridge app for the iOS and Android/Honeycomb market that allows users to bridge their email, browser, BBM, calendar, etc from their BB Phone to the non-QNX tablet.

I doubt this would happen as a "system-level" integration on iOS (like where you could see your BB's email through the native mail app) so for that platform they would need to create a very complex application that contains all those apps within it. But I think they could definitely pull that off with Android.

This could be RIM's trojan horse into the tablet community to sell more phones. Much like Apple did by making iTunes to sell their iPods.

Just my 2 cents.

Maintaince the PlayBook line of products will become much cheaper for RIM, once their phones are sharing the same hardware and software. As a result a year from now they will be able to update their PlayBook line with no more effort that it takes to update curve series.

The real question is whether or not the Playbook is actually still alive? If you judge by what is occurring within various retail stores, the internet, and comments on forums - there's alot of people who already think the device is all but dead.

I think the market comment is dead on. And my theory is that Windows 8 is actually going to help a lot in that respect. The PlayBook and a lot of the Android tablets, like the TouchPad, don't really have that much ability to just say the OS name and have people know what it is. Windows does. Once Windows is on tablets, and once Windows desktops starts looking more like tablets, then suddenly there's two choices for tablets. And once people get used to thinking about two choices, they already have to do research and will realize there's more.

I am still somewhat doubtful that the PlayBook will ever be hugely successful. It's primary market is still businesses (security, portability) so it might never take much of a consumer market share. But I also think that Windows 8, even though it is adding another competitor, will actually help disperse some of the market away from the iPad. So definitely not graveyard, but I'd hedge my bets as the market stabilizes that they'll be fighting with Android for the #3 tablet OS.

And on a happy note, I finally met another PlayBook user a couple of days ago for the first time!

I don't think cars are going to be a magic bullet here. The Playbook will not take off until RIM puts some serious cash into app development/partners. The tablet market isn't an iPad market -- it's a use-case market. People buy tablets when they see tablets can do things they want to do.

Playbooks don't do much of what most consumers want to do -- they aren't movie machines (because no Netflix), they aren't car machines (because no nice traffic-integrated GPS), they aren't communicators (because no easy or integrated e-mail/BBM), they aren't personal agendas (because no easy or integrated calendar). Kobo is great, but it's only one thing.

Nor has RIM partnered with many institutional users to build dedicated software that would turn Playbooks into do-what-we-need machines for their particular institutional settings. No this-is-your-textbook educational partnerships. No courier services using Playbooks as their in-house check-in machine. I'm sure, or at least I'd hope, that something has happened on this front -- some hospital somewhere must have developed for it? But it can't be very much, because we'd have heard of it.

Unless and until RIM starts partnering with content providers and app developers to turn that around -- in other words, until its development is use-case-driven -- I don't really see how the Playbook can have a future. Case in point: my wife owns a first-gen iPad; I own no tablet, because long ago I determined that (a) I wanted a Playbook and (b) I was going to wait to buy one until it could do more of what I wanted -- Netflix, integrated e-mail, whatever. Still waiting, because I want my first tablet to be a Blackberry product, and will definitely wait till mid-October after DevCon for the latest promised release date. But very frustrating.

I really think you nailed it on the head! Just take a look at the iPad commercials. It shows what the iPad can do (educational apps, communication apps, games, etc). What do the Playbook apps show... Flash. That means nothing to the average user. I went to a Johnny Walker event, and they were using iPads for the check-in procedure. Thats when I knew the iPad was a true success and had made it's inroads and have now seen people them using them in the streets and other places. The first time I got to use a Playbook I was amazed at how much I liked it. RIM needs to get the apps that people not only want but will also use. It also needs to get it into the hands of institutions and users that could benefit from a 7 inch tablet. Speaking of which, it's a 7-inch tablet. There are people out there who think the 10 inch iPad is too big. Come on RIM! Showcase the best thing about the Playbook... BB Bridge. The one commercial shown doesn't convey how it works and doesn't tell you it's essentially free tethering! Again, RIM needs to get their act together and step it up!

I think once the Amazon Tablet launches at $250, then all other tablet makers will be under pressure. So far it seems that will have a build similar to the PlayBook, but without cameras, and just 8GB built in memory. If the PlayBook price goes to $300 to $350, then I think they can clear out some of the excess inventory they mentioned in the conference call. There was also a mention of sales promotions after the October PlayBook 2.0 software release.

I am no marketing genius, and I am sure this idea is full of flaws, but what if RIM reached out to public schools (elementary and secondary) and made deals with them. The avg student doesn't need more than a tablet, and boards are starting to spend money on tech. They could be sold on the playbook (smaller, easier to type on, among other things). If you get the kids using it at school, parents will start buying them at home, to keep the tech the same. It might snowball from there.

not true. Macs are expensive., boards are cheap. I don't know of a schoolboard that has an exclusive deal with Mac, where back in the day IBM use to.

But what would it say to public schools? What would they actually do with the Playbook? I'd much rather that they reach out to public schools and say, hey, we'd like to work with you to build software that makes the Playbook into an essential tool for the classroom. Again, use-cases.

One thing I think that his hurting Playbook sales is: stores like Best Buy do not update the OS on their Playbooks! We have 3 Best buys within 60 miles of where I live. Everyone of their Playbooks is running the OS shipped with the Playbook! I have pointed this out to everyone of the sales people at all 3 Best Buys. The only tablet running current, up-to-date OS is the IPAD2. They always say they have a poor wifi signal and can not update them! BULL!

Funny, but I don't see any sign of a "fate" anywhere near on the horizon especially now that v2.0 is near. As I keep my PB with me everywhere, I do get asked the usual question on if it's an iPad and, today got asked if it was a Nook (wth). Then, once I fire it up (cue swipe in .2 secs), fluidly scroll through the plethora of usable apps, show videos, the cameras, etc., then the newly initiated is wowed as they state how much more they like it than their iPad or any other that they've seen.

It takes familiarity and introduction. Not many people even know of its existence. I know the rest of the world doesn't play into heavy marketing like the U.S. does to get people to buy products, but if you're going to sell here, you may want to play like you own "here". The PB is just fine otherwise.

I think you are exactly right on that. The enthusiasts know of it, but the general public does not. I was hoping for some indication of marketing changes in the conference call, but they are still relying upon the retailers and carrier(s) to market devices for them. Likely with so many in the channel they may not want to increase their marketing expense, but they need to do something.

How about getting CrackBerry Kevin as a spokesperson on TV, much like the Apple Dude? RiM need a spokesperson. Or better yet have Kevin as the BlackBerry guy and Ashley as the BlackBerry girl, and do an "I like the PlayBook because _____"

Hey Kevin,

Does your shoulder hurt? LMAO!

All kidding aside, this was a good article.

8330 - 8530 - 9630 - 9650 - PlayBook - 9930!
Once you go Bold, you never go back...

How many PB commercials have you seen since the dreaded "Flash" ads? Step it up RIM! Explain how the PlayBook is different!

And start getting some eye-catching displays in the stores for Christ sakes!!

I love my Playbook! I get a smile on my face when I show the people in Best Buy what I can do with an updated Playbook! I carry mine with me anytime I go to a Best buy! There is not a tablet out there with a better video! I was surprised that the folks at Best Buy did not know of the coming of the android app player! I do not know what Apple is paying Best Buy to push the Ipad2, but it must be BIG BUCKS! I have had mine for about 2 months now. You could not run fast enough to make me trade it for an Ipad2! GO RIM!!!!

This in reply to a couple of posts above.

I do know of an institutional user (a city) that is using the Playbook to control HVAC systems. It is a small step, but the reasons are clear: size (7" is more portable in the field than anything larger but more readable than a smartphone) and security. Put the PB in the hands of the users and the advantages become clear.

And enough about how few apps there are for the Playbook (and for Blackberries in general)! I already have apps that I never touch because there are not enough hours in the day to use them all, and those are just the free ones. And let's talk usefulness for a moment. I showed a friend the Playbook and his comment was "Living on the edge, with your tablet that has no apps." Then I told him of the pre-installed apps. Suddenly he was apologetic. And finally, search for fart in App World. 25 results. Do it in iTunes. Over 200. Granted, they are not all actual fart apps, but if that is how you want to be known or how you want to be discovered, then that is how you are counted.

And to add to the tablet market maturity comments: Rome was not built in a day. I think RIM is smart enough to let an investment grow and mature rather than sell and take a loss because of slow uptake in a still developing market. Last time I checked, patience was still a virtue.

That is pretty cool about a city using the Playbook to control HVAC systems -- seriously. Would absolutely love to see a profile on Crackberry about that. If you were willing to email Kevin ... or post their name here ...

As to the rest, I want to be clear. This is not about how few apps there are for the Playbook. This is about not having the right ones. I haven't held off on buying a Playbook (and, therefore, any other tablet, because I'm still going to wait the PB out) because of the number of apps out there -- app-counting is basically dick-measuring, and it doesn't matter. Rather, I've held off because of a lack of use cases: there isn't that handful of killer apps that would make the Playbook useful for me.

City of Edmonton. Not 100% sure if it is permanent or a test, but a friend that works for the city in maintenance said he had just gotten his Playbook and was playing around with it.

As for the app counting, I agree. I guess I went there just because that is what every comment abt apps (that I hear anyway) is abt. I brought up the app types and how many there are of that type to highlight the quality though. I don't think the app quality is that bad for PB, just the perception, which comes down to bad marketing. Thanks for the response, helps me clarify my points.

I don't think Playbook will die. They have already made the R&D investment and as far as we know, they are not selling the Playbook at a loss. 200,000 units is quite a chunk of revenue and as long as it is not losing money (even break even is fine), there's no reason to stop manufacturing Playbooks. Those Playbooks are paying someone's salary and recouping the cost of Playbook development.

There are 2 other very simple reasons:
1) You don't want to look like a loser like HP, especially in the enterprise market
2) RIM's new phones will be on a same/similar platform. Even their old phones are doing okay, so the Playbook serves as the first step for any developers / users heading for the new QNX phones. And it's a great way to "test" the platform. You wouldn't want to test it on your bread 'n butter, would you? (Although you do run the risk of giving it a bad name).

The biggest weakness right now, maybe the only one, is lack of quality apps.
Yes, I have an iPad & a Playbook. I like the Playbook better, but sometimes the lack of certain apps (and I don't mean the ones that are just portals to a web site) is really annoying.

There is potential. I don't use a Blackberry, but every day commuting to work, I see tons of people with Blackberry's, especially the kids (so no, I'm not in USA).

As a Playbook and IPad owner, I agree with most of the comments. First, the Playbook is superior - it is lighter and easier to carry (when I travel, it's more portable) - a point not advertised. For those of us who have an IPAD - it's too big. In fact, I'm not sure if the Playbook was designed for this, but the Playbook fits perfectly in my cargo pocket in my shorts when i go hiking - something that many hikers will tell you is actually pretty smart!!! Portability for a tablet is critical and if RIMM could start advertising the superior features of the product, it could increase sales (it's no IPAD, because it's not an IPAD)! Understand that a different type of user is buying the Playbook - mainly, those of us who do not like the IPAD due to its lack of versatility in most environments (i mean, have you ever tried to type a simple document on the ipad - your fingers almost go numb).

Second, I feel abandoned. I am a public official and I "converted" my agency onto the Playbook, but I feel as though RIMM stopped advertsing and abandoned us loyal customers mid stream - ironically, they have a significant amount of cash and can really compete with Apple on ads. While the consumer market is attractive, for tech savvy people, i enjoy having my phone (Blackberry Bold 9900 - which is absolutely awesome) tethered to my Playbook. Plus, like Blackberry of the good ole days, it should be a device for the high-end consumer (which places value on the quality of the hardware). RIMM needs to stop trying to develop low-end tablets - i really dont give a crap about watching a movie on my Playbook. Rather, I want it for business aps, bbm and email\web access(ironically, the very attributes that made Blackberry successful). If I want to watch a movie or play angry birds, I'll use my IPAD. The Playbook should be viewed as a "status tablet" - meaning, its the Gucci of the tablets. In other words, dont let the analysts and the market try to make a nice high-end product a consumer/mid-market tablet. Imagine, if RIMM would advertise the Playbook as the "tablet for those users who need power as a business or high end device for thier daily needs, etc". Not only would more companies use the product (assuming the apps were there), but consumers that actually value the differences between an IPAD and Playbook would actually choose the better product. IN OTHER WORDS, STOP TRYING TO MAKE THE PLAYBOOK A SIMPLE DEVICE - KIDS AND NEW USERS ARENT GOING TO BUY THIS DEVICE, BUT YOU CAN SEGMENT THE MARKET AND ATTRACT DISSATISFIED APPLE CUSTOMERS AND BUSINESS/HIGH-END USERS (REMEMBER, THIS STRATEGY MADE RIMM SUCCESSFUL - IMAGINE IF RIMM HAD DUMBED DOWN THE INITIAL BLACKBERRY AND COMPETED WITH PALM AND OTHER SIMPLE PHONES). GET BACK TO WHAT MAKES RIMM, RIMM. APPLE WILL FALTER - AFTER ALL, THE IPHONE HAS NOT REALLY CHANGED FROM ITS FIRST GENERATION OTHER THAN MINOR HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE IMPROVEMENTS - IT WILL FALL OVER TIME.

Finally, use your app store to your advantage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Look, you are never going to catch up to Apple or Android - but this is not a bad thing!!! Actually, App World is better organized and remember, high-end customers focus on quality, not crappy apps! In other words, I would rather App World have 500 good apps, versus 50,000 crappy apps that we have trouble figuring out which are good and which are bad! Use this as an opportunity - if RIMM can convince analysts that high end consumers dont want useless apps, then RIMM can focus on ensuring that its App World doesn't get cluttered with junk - which is appauling about Android and Apple.

Sorry for the lengthy post, but I hope that RIMM actually reads this post! Keep the Playbook, refocus its target market, keep updating the OS regularly and reward those customers that are actually investing in RIMM. Look, 500,000 loyal customers is a good start - yes, your stock price took a hit, but if you do this right, you may have a nice niche market to make a decent amount of money over the next few years. Advertise and reward us for supporting you! We are not the type of customers that hangout in a Apple Store all day; rather, we just want a darn good tablet to help us do our work and avoid booting our laptop, so we can spend time doing something else in the evening (in other words, RIMM customers are busy people who have lives outside of web surfing and hanging out a store all day to play angry birds)! Don't turn your products into what we dispise!

Look I am 70 years old and the playbook is excellent for my needs . The bridge works great with my Torch and there are plenty of good apps. I also have an IPad2 and much prefer the Playbook - smaller , faster and more business friendly. The IPad is for artists and kids RIM will sort out their problems, and they have a great platform to work with.

As a former BB'er starting from the 7290 (most here probably weren't around back then) up to the first T-mobile bold in 2009, I feel like RIM has constantly placed all of their eggs into one basket. The current basket is the Playbook, which they've failed to make relevant to non BB users. It's a great product don't get me wrong, but RIM needs to hurry up and make themselves relevant to the everyday user, and do it fast. They haven't got lots of time. I will always be a huge fan of RIM and still feel that the best phone I ever owned (biggest leap forward) was the 7290. I am now a current user of the Motorola Droid series of phones (3 Global) and purchased the HP Touchpad because of the sale. The playbook is too small in my opinion for the price point. Couple that with an unfamiliar user interface and strong ties to BB for email and messaging and success is out of reach. A tablet isn't a necessity, we all have laptops netbooks and desktops, not to mention our touch phones. Its going to have to wow us, either by price or useability to be successful.

-Sent from my HP Touchpad with WebOS

i'm living in the caribbean if you ever come to most of the islands u would swear that everyone owns a blackberry. i've been following the so called tablet wars. 'ive made a decision that if i'm getting a tablet im getting an ipad. although the blackberry spec wise is a better product i think i'm leaning towards the ipad. First of all having better specs doesnt sell a product a combination of a good marketing team and as some users pointed out the appropriate a consumer im interested in what the product can do for me now not what the product has the potential to do i want apps i would rather hear there is an app for that than to hear its coming soon and thats all im hearing from RIM its coming soon. how soon is soon ?????????????? its always sooon. fact if you dont have apps and or a good marketing strategy then your tablet isnt going to sell.

I do believe that when RIM decided to enter into the tablet business they had all intentions of making a profit so its all about sales sales and more sales period!!!!! In order to achieve this you need to cater to the different consumer groups governments etc whether its business or the casual user thats the method for increasing sales.

A few recommendations and i do hope that RIM board of directors follow this forum

1) Get raid of the CO-CEO crap its clearly not working and i honestly believe that you need to look into this i think its foolishness and it needs to end

2) Fire the marketing team( if you have one ) its kinda clear that you really don't have a marketing team if you do they are seriously not doing a great job or if the marketing team isn't the problem maybe you need to invest a portion of that 3-billion dollars you have sitting in an account somewhere

3) After firing the marketing team hire KEVIN from Crack berry your number one Fan boy cause after reading his post etc he gets me more excited about your products than your own commercials

4) you need to take a page out of APPLE book i know a lot of people don't like to hear that name on this forum cause" WE" are all blackberry fans however you must admire their business strategy . stop announcing products before you're ready to launch them. if you're going to announce a product make sure its hmm maybe three months or even two months before the product is release and stop with the damm delays get your shit together. lets look at it the play book was announced almost a year in advance(might be exaggerating a bit :) ) it was launched and it still isn't a finished product. personally i think blackberry had a lot of time to see what apple was doing ,what android was doing even what web os was doing they had the opportunity to do things different even better but its clear that they didn't take advantage of that opportunity. work on your products silently when you're almost ready to launch your products then you hype those products up i think that would be a better strategy for rim.

5) give us up to date products ,give us products thats able to compete with other products, goes back to point number 4 after we hear about these leak products that takes almost a year for a release date by then there are other products thats being release with better hard ware and to be honest i find rim products they lack innovativeness they are boring. im spending so much money on a phone and i still have to turn around and purchase basic apps that other phones have as stock items come on RIM .

6) Stop the leaks try your best to control the info interms of when it is release.

ok thats all for now

what better bmw, mercedes, or audi? we need to remember that consumers like to be different once in a while. blackberry needs to continuing being different in they ways there products are and still be able to match the performance levels. not everyone wants to be apple branded. play book is a great device. they just need to further develop it. as far as im concerned once they merge app world with android player this whole app war will be less important. we need to not forget that consumers like companies and products that are different. if every one made the smartphone exactly like they the iphone then people would realize what that the iphone or ipad isnt perfect and flawless in every area of wants and needs in a device.

Despite already owning an iPad (the original), I really want a Playbook for the sake of supporting the underdog and I'm just a gadget nut.

I have to agree! i also have the iPad(original), and debating between upgrading to iPad2 or purchasing Playbook. I'am both a fan of Apple products and Blackberry nothing else ... in Manila, iPhones and BBs are the preferred phone brands for the upper A,B,C market (it ain't cheap). Anyway, I so want to PB, just waiting it out til 2.0 in October.

Well Blackberry is not the only one who is producing the tabs. They surely has loads of competitors but i am sure their loyal customers wont leave them as their target is not the gaming freaks. The playbook is a lot more than that!!!