Why did RIM choose to build a smaller tablet with a 7" display vs. going bigger? Here's the story!

BlackBerry PlayBook
By Kevin Michaluk on 16 Apr 2011 04:19 pm EDT

The Globe and Mail posted a really great article yesterday titled RIM makes a play for its future that walks through a lot of the back story leading up to the creation of the BlackBerry PlayBook, and how RIM is positioning themselves for the future. I definitely recommend reading the full article, which looks at both RIM's success and the challenges and opportunities they face moving forward.

Relating to the BlackBerry PlayBook specifically, the article helps us to confirm some of those early rumors we were tracking going back to the first whispers of a tablet (that RIM was originally thinking about doing a tablet based of the BBOS, but after the iPad got announced knew they had to do something more ambitious) and confirms that the product development cycle for the PlayBook was extremely fast.

The article also gives us some insight into why RIM chose to build a smaller tablet with a 7" display, vs. going with a bigger size like the iPad. The decision comes back to Todd Wood, RIM's head of Industrial Design, and his team:

"Mike (Lazaridis) asked me, ‘What would you think of a bigger BlackBerry?' " Mr. Wood says. The task was twofold: create something that actually looks different than older BlackBerrys, but sets a design precedent for future ones.

Mr. Wood sent his people out into the real world to look for inspiration. They came back with a theme. Many of the things people carried around with them - paperbacks, Moleskin notebooks, DVD cases - seemed to conform to a certain size.

If the PlayBook was to be truly mobile, Mr. Wood believed, it would have to be roughly the same size, something a person could hold with just one hand, unlike the iPad. The designers and the engineers agreed a seven-inch screen would meet that goal and still be able to fit the PlayBook's brains - a high-powered circuit board sandwiched between two batteries - inside.

Over the summer, Mr. Wood's team of industrial designers began to build the first PlayBook mockups, first out of foam, then plastic, and finally the initial working versions, which were in place not long before Mr. Lazaridis took to the stage at San Francisco's Moscone Centre last September and unveiled the PlayBook to the world.

The more I use the PlayBook the more I'm appreciating the "real world" size of the device. It's definitely portable, and definitely comfortable to hold with one hand for even extended periods of time. So I can see why Woods' team went this route. And I as noted in my BlackBerry PlayBook Review, I'm sure with time we will see a bigger PlayBook from RIM too - offering choice is in company's nature. For the full story, hit the link below.

Read the Full Story - RIM Makes a Play For It's Future

Reader comments

Why did RIM choose to build a smaller tablet with a 7" display vs. going bigger? Here's the story!


I think RIM has plans to eventually move the OS beyond tablets and phones. If you consider the companies that QNX has worked with, it brings up entertaining ideas of what a mobile OS can do for indutrial applications.

I believe this is the case too. That's why I like the rollout plans of hp webos and their synergy between printers, pc, laptops etc. That's a huge amount of potential to reach and something I'd love to see rim provide on pcs someday :)

I think the size is perfect, there's a reason carry around a 8.9 inch netbook. Its lighter than a 10 inch and fits pefectly in my travel bag. Its a shame 10 is now becoming more the default in the netbook arena.

Its funny how ppl dismiss the playbook as a failure because of its small size yet rim have not stated they won't build a bigger one unlike apple who call this size ridiculous.

Portability abd weight is impoortant for tavel and just holding it for extended periods. I'm glad I don't have to hold my netbook for very because of it keyboard/screen combo.

If I could bury your comment, believe me I would. If your browser crashed, how were you able to read the article?

+1. I virtually never see anyone carrying around an i-pad anymore. That lasted about 6 months and then it was just too obvioisly ridiculous.

I think this depends on the region...where I am (the DC metro area) I see a LOT of iPad users. Of course, there's also Kindle and nook users...but the iPad is pretty common as well.

if it were 10" I would'nt buy one. I need it for work and I don't want to carry around a tablet that big, now I use my bb phone but when i get this I hope to marry it to my phone and use it. I have to have a lot of info when Iam working this will help me get it in a full computer view. the BB phone I only gives me mobile view and some times I miss things . Result, it cost me money.

I agree about the seven inch form factor being under rated by some. I have a rooted Nook Color running Android that's almost identical in size to the Playbook. Its a handy size to carry around and more mobile than the ipad but it's not as good for web browsing while sitting on your couch. It really is a trade off.

Nice article. I even clicked on the other links and saw hat Doodle jump will be on the playbook. A very simple Air game, but since I'm not a gamer that's fine with me I can waste a few minutes with it and I'll be happy.

I agree with other comments. The iPad is just not portable and if it isn't protable what's the point??

Kevin says he take his iPad on trips to play on the plane. My guess is he'll be so used to carring the playbook around he'll soon forget to take the ipad even when he goes one trips.

No one on wall street will be carting around an iPad, but if the playbook can fit in a Coat paocket watch out! Coool. Especially walking in a hooking it up for a full HD presentation. Nice!

i wanna see how fast i can type with it holding it in portrait mode
kevin says he can type very fast in his podcast

and im feeling with that size i bet it would be very easy to do so

I read the whole article as I have a subsciption to the Globe and Mail. I recommend it to people considering buying a Playbook.

7 inch is sooooo perfect. honestly it comes down to what u do with ur tablet. im gonna take it to work EVERYDAY along with my bb. My manager has an ipad and she only brings it in when she needs to show us her vacation pictures lol. i dont know how companies are thinking of moving to iOS ipad for bizzness, i would refuse to carry that thing everywhere with me. plus the threat of getting jumped by some dumb high school kids for it. lol

I had an opportunity today to type in both landscape and portrait and I can attest that the playbook rocks! Portrait typing is very easy and the response is phenomenal. I am stoked....my work laptop will stay on my desk for meetings :)

Saw this article yesterday and was going to pass it along. Finally, an adult take on RIM in the press.

You just can't say enough about true portability and security in mobile computing, and no one's come close yet. The Playbook aims to be the exactly perfect solution for me.

No one rooting more for RIM on this one--nor more confident we'll be #WINNING for years to come.

Break a leg on Tuesday,

One pleasant article to read!

I can't wait till the playbook. Take it along with me on the streetcar and just show em off XD! Holding it on one hand reading stuff and other hand on the rail. That's something an iPad for sure can't do XD

Personally I still feel the PB should have been given the 10" screen.Even then it would still be smaller and lighter than almost any laptop so I don't see how portability would be an issue.I'm glad to see that RIM might offer a larger version later because besides the screen size I think the PB is a winner.

its 7" screen as this is the cheapest size screen they can get.

apple buys so many units of the ipad that the manufactuers cant cope with demand from other companies if they want the same size or similar, which is why most tablets are smaller!

it is always about cost and the 7" screen ticks all the boxes!