For BlackBerry PlayBook owners, it's not looking good right now that a BlackBerry 10 update for the PlayBook is coming anytime soon. Hell, it's starting to feel like it may never come. Just as the word "PlayBook" never surfaced during the BlackBerry 10 launch event in January, PlayBook never made it into last week's BlackBerry Live keynote. This didn't go unnoticed by CrackBerry's PlayBook community, setting off a good deal of our members into a Hulk-like rage ever since.
Thinking back to the BlackBerry 10 launch event in January, word came via a Q&A press session that the PlayBook would be receiving an update to BB10 "later this year." This set an expectation among anxious PlayBook owners that BB10 is coming, and BlackBerry Live would have been the perfect time for the update -- or at least more word on the pending update -- to drop. That didn't happen in a proactive nature. Instead, we had to prod for answers.
My number one disappointment was no PlayBook news. They could have given us some kind of update on the status of the PlayBook development.
To be fair, nobody from BlackBerry told us straight out at BlackBerry Live that BB10 is not coming to the PlayBook, but the answers we received whenever we asked about the PlayBook didn't give us warm and fuzzy feelings either. The standard response received was typically along the lines of "we don't have any new information to share about the PlayBook at this time." This isn't entirely bad news in and of itself, given that the last official word was that BlackBerry 10 would make its way onto the PlayBook. In other words, no news could be taken as good news - but you have to keep waiting to find out more.
A less standard response was provided by CEO Thorsten Heins during the executive press session following the BlackBerry Live keynote. Though when asked if BlackBerry 10 was still coming to the PlayBook, he avoided the straight yes or no answer and instead spoke about where mobile computing is going, and within that delivered the message that is where the company's attention is focused. My takeaway from this was that updating three year old PlayBook hardware to run BB10 isn't at the top of BlackBerry's to do list.
Thinking about it from all sides...
Any update would have been nice, whether it was to 2.x or to BB10. My PlayBook feels like it is starting to fall behind, as I will surf on the Z10 instead of the PlayBook while at home.
I've gone on at length before about How I'd like to see BlackBerry 10 come to the PlayBook (if you haven't read that article before, READ IT!). That said, when I look at something like this I try and put on all of my "stakeholder hats" to evaluate the situation from every angle.
As a PlayBook owner and as CrackBerry Kevin, of course I want to see BlackBerry follow through on its commitment to bringing BlackBerry 10 to the PlayBook. Or if not full out BB10, at least some of the elements from BlackBerry 10. PlayBook owners deserve it. They've been promised it. A lot of PlayBook owners made the decision to purchase a PlayBook under the impression it would be receiving a BlackBerry 10 update.
I just don't get how a device that was so lamented is now treated like its a brand new device that should be supported forever.
If I put on my "BlackBerry shareholder" hat, my thoughts are the opposite. The PlayBook was released on April 19th, 2011. That's over two years on the market. Spending time and resources updating it at this point doesn't make sense, especially given that the number of PlayBook owners in the world is relatively small compared to the total number of BlackBerry phone users out there. Sure, you'll piss off the PlayBook owners if you leave the PlayBook hanging, but right now BlackBerry needs to focus on building out BB10 and selling new devices. Focusing on the past is not going to help BlackBerry right now become more competitive in a very competitive market. They really do need to focus on building out new kick-ass products for the future.
Putting on my wannabe "Chairman of the Board" hat, it's easy to see how this decision is a messy one no matter what. On one hand, you don't want to piss off your customers and fans, and we know a lot of early adopter PlayBook owners are BlackBerry's biggest fans. On the other hand, the business decision that makes sense is to just end new development on the PlayBook, or at the least put it on the back burner. If you leave the it hanging long enough, the PlayBook problem will resolve itself. Already in the forums I see a lot of PlayBook + Z10 owners saying they use their PlayBook a lot less now that they have the Z10, because the Z10 has more apps, a better browsing experience and is faster all around.
BlackBerry most likely won't feel a huge loss over abandoning the PlayBook, but do they want to earn a reputation for making a promise they never intended to keep?
Looking through CrackBerry's BlackBerry PlayBook forums, I've seen every kind of post imaginable from PlayBook owners. At this point, some don't care if BB10 comes to the PlayBook or not. Others just want BlackBerry 10 apps to be able to run on the PlayBook. And others want full out BlackBerry 10, no matter what.
One thing that seems to be a common theme, and one that I can't disagree with, is the desire to just have clear communication over the fate of the PlayBook. If the decision has changed and the fate of the PlayBook is to not get BB10, let's just pull the Band-Aid off. And if it's definitely coming to the PlayBook, let's get a little more clarity over what it will look like and when it will actually happen - I think PlayBook owners deserve that.