Why RIM is launching the BlackBerry PlayBook without a native email client (and why this may or may not matter to you)

BlackBerry PlayBook Email
By Kevin Michaluk on 29 Mar 2011 01:38 pm EDT

The PlayBook's web browser should pull up your Gmail just fine... until the day (hopefully soon)
that RIM rolls out the native email and PIM apps

There is no doubt in my mind that the single biggest point of confusion and concern amongst the uninformed surrounding the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is the sentiment that you need to own a BlackBerry Smartphone in order to use a BlackBerry PlayBook (in other words, the PlayBook is an accessory to a BlackBerry Smartphone, vs. a tablet device that can stand up on its own). I've had friends, readers and my next door neighbor raise this issue with me, and last week I even witnessed WSJ's Walt Mossberg relay this same notion/misunderstanding when he was a moderator on a panel discussion at CTIA.

The confusion arises from the fact that the BlackBerry PlayBook, which runs RIM's new QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS, will lack native/core email, BBM and PIM (contacts, calendar, etc.) support at launch (however you can still use the web browser to access email/calendar/etc. from the web and there is nothing stopping third party developers from building apps for these purposes). Because RIM built their reputation as a mobile email powerhouse and has always enjoyed a leadership position when it comes to mobile communications (think BBM, BES/BIS), I believe a lot of people have mistakingly took this to mean that RIM made the conscious decision to permanently leave these features off their tablet. I mean, if anybody should be able to implement solid email on a tablet, it's RIM, right? So if it's not there, it must be some sort of sinister tactic to want to try and convince people to buy both a new phone and tablet and use them together only as a package deal, right?

Wrong. The reality of the matter is that RIM simply does not yet have this functionality ready for the new QNX operating system in the way they want to roll it out (and trust that it's secure), and with the usage case of the tablet being different from that of a smartphone, RIM figured it wasn't necessary to wait for it to go live in order to get PlayBook sales rolling. RIM has invested massive amounts of money over the years into their Network Operation Centre (the NOC) and you can guarantee that any and every BlackBerry device they put into the market, be it phone or tablet, is going to be able to connect to the NOC so it can take advantage of the added value it provides (push email, security, efficiency, BBM, management/deployment for enterprises via BES, etc.). RIM **could** have more easily implemented native email and PIM into the PlayBook the way other manufacturers do it, but then RIM would be selling itself short as it would be bypassing the NOC. So instead, RIM is taking a lesson from Apple here and is going to market with an arguably unfinished product and will instead rollout further features when they are ready (remember, the iPhone never launched with an App Store and it took a while for them to invent Cut and Paste). Yes, it would absolutely be better if everything was there at launch, but the fact that it is not there does not mean the device isn't worth buying. So if you buy a PlayBook on April 19th, it won't natively be connected to RIM's NOC the way today's BlackBerry Smartphones are, but at somepoint in the near-ish future that connection will be made and the full power of the PlayBook will be unleashed (likely prior to the release of the 4G PlayBook.. and we ARE hearing that the WiFi-only PlayBooks will get native BBM at that point too).

If you've been thinking that RIM should have put the new QNX operating system onto a phone before putting it onto a tablet, it should be making sense to you now why they instead took the tablet-first approach. The smartphone is an always-on, always-connected device. When QNX-based BlackBerry Smartphones hit the market, this connection to the NOC (and native email, PIM, etc. clients) absoutely must be there. But while the smartphone is your most personal mobile device -- it's on you 24/7 and it's your life line -- the tablet is a little different, slotting in somewhere between phone and computer. The phone is still your on the go, running down the street while texting device. It calls out to you constantly with every message and notification you get (a phone can be a curse as much as it can be a gadget). On the other hand, the tablet experience is different - you choose to pick up the device. Owning a tablet doesn't really change the way you use your phone as a communication tool (I know it never has for me and I own both an iPad and iPad 2), but once you own a tablet you'll find there are things you prefer to do on the tablet over the phone, even though the phone has the same capabilities. Example - I can play Angry Birds on both my iPhone 4 and my iPad, but given the choice I'll always play it on an iPad.

I know for me personally that even when the BlackBerry PlayBook does receive the software update that brings to it native email and PIM, that I likely won't take advantage of it, as those are timely activities I prefer to do on my phone. For this same reason, I'm not even sure how much I'm going to be using the BlackBerry Bridge on the PlayBook. If you're not familiar with it, the BlackBerry Bridge is a value-added feature for people who own both a BlackBerry Smartphone and PlayBook, which essentially turns your PlayBook into a big touchscreen interface for your phone. You pair your BlackBerry Smartphone to the PlayBook via Bluetooth, and from there you can do do your phone's email, BBM, calendar, contacts, tasks and memos on your PlayBook. It's definitely a cool feature, and a pretty smooth experience, but the odds are I'm going to reach for my BlackBerry Smartphone when I feel it vibrate that I just got a message (I guess time will tell). That's not to say I'll never do these things on the PlayBook - I definitely will - but for me it means that I'm OK with having to go through the web browser to get to my email and calendar.

As I'm typing this blog post I'm working in Firefox, and up top are two more open tabs - one for Gmail and one for Google Calendar. Yes, my Mac has a native client for email and calendar, but I've never used them. On my computer I access my email and calendar via the web browser. I think a lot of people do that these days. So if I have to do the same thing on the PlayBook at launch, it's not really a big deal. I'll make a homescreen web browser shortcut for Gmail and Google Calendar, and when I do kick back in my chair and decide I want to check my email on my PlayBook instead of on my phone or computer, it really won't be that big of a deal.. at least for me (I do get there are milions of people out there not like me on this issue). Plus there's nothing stopping developers from building apps to handle all of these email and PIM tasks, so if it has to be an app that makes people happy, I'm sure that will be along soon enough. It just won't be a native app from RIM, until they're happy with the security of the QNX OS and how it is talking to the NOC. 

At the end of the day, I'm not trying to defend RIM here. YES, the PlayBook needs to have native email and PIM. You can justify its lack of being there by saying you have an awesome web browser you can go through, but at this point it's an expectation so RIM has to have it, period. And yes, it would have been better if RIM had it ready to go at launch. It *should* be high on their priority list, so you'd think they could have had it done for launch and then there would be no confusion and I wouldn't have had to write this article.

At least we hear the software update process on the PlayBook is super smooth (two minute upgrades over WiFi and no rebooting required), so let's hope RIM just gets this addressed quick and it's a dead issue.

Reader comments

Why RIM is launching the BlackBerry PlayBook without a native email client (and why this may or may not matter to you)


Not having email helps me, as within my family of 3 we each have BB and it would have been a fight or mess if 3 emails needed to be synced. Now its each for himself to browser for email/calendar!

But what about BlackBerry Messenger are you not going to miss being able to chat with someone on your PlayBook?

I think RIM is going to cause a lot of confusion for both non-BlackBerry owners and even some BlackBerry owner that expect the same experience from the PlayBook as they have on their BB.

And the whole "we are working on it"... they maybe next year some time.

Sorry Kevin, sounds like you are trying too hard to apologize for RIM.

For BBM you need a BIS plan and I don't think BBM will work on wifi anyway.

But I also like to see BBM on Playbook and it should be able to work on wifi.

Agreed. This is a great opportunity being royally screwed up by RIM. Its now a RIM product with nothing RIM products are known for.

No thanks.

I carry two Blackberry's a Bold 9780 (personal use) 8820 (work issued). I have used Blackberry's since 2000 and I have not needed/wanted anything else. With regard to the Playbook having native email, PIM support I would not use it. To me Blackberry bridge allows you to use what has worked and what you know on a larger screen. I am a BIS user on the Bold and BES user on the 8820. As far as my Bold goes I have my hotmail set to not keep messages on the server and not save sent e-mails. Once they are on the Bold I use the BB desktop software to sync and backup my BB. So Blackberry bridge will only make better my experience by allowing me a larger screen to view the app I know and already love. I don't want my e-mail in the Cloud or on some remote "free" server. Today we use e-mail to receive our credit card statements, phone bills, insurance, and retirement account statements. All this is unencrypted. So I want my mail off of their servers as fast as possible and completely in my control. I accept full responsibility for my data and backups and that is my preference.

Is NOT the same to receive a notification on you Playbook icon, 1-touch the icon and then just 2- touch the message to read it THAN 1-Open the browser (no notificaiton) user will have to check periodically 2- type the gmail or any email web address 3- type your username and password 4- Check/Look for the new email.

The latter option would be easy to do with, as kevin said, a homescreen shortcut to gmail (or whatever email provider) but the no notifications would be kind of a pain. Let us look to third party devs to make that happen until RIM gets native email working.

It doesn't matter too much to me, as my BlackBerry is my e-mail client. Otherwise I'll just use my browser to get my mail, so it's functionality that will go unused for me.

Good artical... for those who don't want to read it all, here's the synopsis: "Yes, the native email/calendar apps should be included with the launce of the Playbook... it isn't... but it will be soon".

Personally, I prefer native applications over the web experience - I use MS Outlook for everything... so to me, the missing email/calendar is a bit disappointing... but that won't stop me from getting a Playbook! :)

Awesome article kevin, this is why i read your blog, always being deadly accurate on making your point clear and leaving 0 confusion to the reader.

Kudos to you, and to everyone who contributes to writing this blog :). Im a happy crackberry fan/member/family :D

someone is not advising RIM properly. It's not really a big deal for me, but i will be waiting for the Os update. Staple canada will be opening their doors on April 19 at midnight and i will be the first one to get my PlayBook

it's not a deal-breaker for me - I'm bothered more by the lack of assured USB host mode support than by the lack of a dedicated e-mail client - but I can see where it would be handy, especially for those who work from home or in a business environment that has facility-wide WiFi. Being able to move from room to room at home, or from office to meeting room to break room to office again at work, while having your e-mail pushed to your Playbook, would sure make it worthwhile to carry around.

Haha, great to see Kevin firing back with no hestiation and putting a stop to all the confusion asap. He must be scouring the interwebz ALL DAY to make sure that the PlayBook launch is going to be successful. Well done!

Great article Kevin!

However, I still do not see this explanation as sufficient. Had the iPad launched without email or a calendar we would be all over it at "how much of a failure that would be" and how it would be just a joke. So why shouldn't these sentiments be the same here? Plus, these first email-less models will be ones reviewed on WSJ and CNET. These reviews will be what undecided consumers will be basing their decisions on. I do not think that's a great start.

We have seen RIM in action, and while we all want near "future-ish" to be the following week, it could be 6 months. That's future-ish right?

I feel like this is not *yet* a great competitor in the tablet space. I am more than happy to be wrong, because competition is great for us, unfortunately, I do not see this here.

No you are right, this it not a competitor to the much overhyped luxury tablet market. The market is too saturated and media overhypes the real need for a tablet.

I'm LMMFAO RIM yet again dropped the ball and didn't include native email from the get go. You know the media is going to stress this fact in every article and the very small market for people wanting tablets are going to be sticking with the iPad.

Excuse the ignorance but if I DO have a blackberry smarthpone (and I do, of course) and I have it bridged with my wifi-only Playbook, will I be able to access the web through the phone's 3g connection?

Actually you will be able to use the internet in bridge mode. It's a separate browser that appears with the other 'bridge mode' apps (i.e. contacts, calendar, tasks, memo and browser). This will not cause you to incur tethering charges.

You make a solid, if very diplomatic argument.

Any BB fan won't really miss the lack of a native email client, if they have a BlackBerry, but the problem for me lies in convincing none BB users to buy the tablet. As it stands, there is no unique selling point to the Playbook. BlackBerry email would have been one, and a strong one at that, so I can't see someone who doesn't use a BlackBerry being easily convinced by the PlayBook.

I think they should have waited till PlayBook was ready before launching. The comparison with the first iPhone is flawed, because, while there was no App store, it was the first touchscreen device of its kind. No one cared about apps. The technology itself is what made it sell well. It was unique. PlayBook isn't unique. It's a tablet with a BlackBerry twist... except with the most crucial elements of BlackBerry missing. I want it to do well but it's going to be tough.

I do not own a Blackberry and never had. I had the original iphone and now the droid, which I plan to use as a hotspot with the wifi version of Playbook.

I'm ok with no email client, even on a wifi only Playbook, but options would be nice down the road.

Hey Kevin quick question for you... I know that in order to use 3G on my playbook i will have to tether it to my blackberry... I have an unlimited Bell Mobility Data Package that does not support tethering.. Do you know if I am going to be charged the extra tethering fee I would normally be charged if I tethered via the computer? Thanks!

You will be able to use the internet in bridge mode. It's a separate browser that appears with the other 'bridge mode' apps (i.e. contacts, calendar, tasks, memo and browser). This will not cause you to incur tethering charges.

You guys know that there is a Playbook Simulator VM imagne for VMare (VMplayer, VmWorkstation..etc)

Download, and try accessing gmail, yahoo, etc with the browser and see how it works...
Although it maynot be the most up-to-date build, it should at least give you a taste of what it will look like.


Well written but your basic premise is flawed. No, not everyone will want\need a native email app (I do) but the deeper issue they are clearly launching the product before it is ready. These are called Core Applications for a reason. Same reasoning applies to the Android Emulator. Yes, it is cool and it goes a long ways toward eliminating one of my main concerns about the Playbook (the lack of apps vs IOS or Android) but they are not ready. It would be much better to wait another couple of months if need be and ensure the product is ready. What is the hurry. They are only going to get one chance to get this right. Better to wait a little longer and have the CORE applications ready/

I basically say that in the article.... they are not ready. However, with a tablet usage case they can go to market without QNX running the native/core apps, the main reason being that in enterprises where there are already BlackBerry Smartphones, the PlayBook can use the phone as the secure tunnel back to the NOC instead of the PlayBook having it built back in (that's why I jokingly call it the BlackBerry Bandaid instead of the Bridge).

The scary-ish thing here is that it sort of appears that maybe RIM can't secure QNX well enough yet to allow the native apps onto it. That's why they're starting with this Bridge approach (that's kind of like the Palm Foleo).  Blackberry Smartphones have never been hacked (to my knowledge). I don't think RIM wants to see they PlayBook get jailbroken, etc. etc and then show their email is hackable.  They're taking the time to make sure this doesn't happen, by leaving it off.

 The time question is interesting... if it's only 2 months away to get native support, should RIM just have waited longer?  Or is it more like 6 months away? I'm not sure.  I do think RIM has some marketing to do to overcome the confusion though.

Kevin, I don't think it's scary as much as it is simply RIM not having time to integrate BIS/BES yet. They could easily do it, but doing so would delay the launch a few months. RIM does not have a few months to spare in the tablet market. Waiting a few extra months to get BIS/BES integration in will hurt them A LOT more than just releasing it now and bringing that later. So, it's not really a matter of security as much as it's a matter of integrating a legacy system to a new architecture and actually releasing the product in a suitable time frame given the current tablet environment.

EDIT: Reading your article again, it seems that you do echo these same points. I just wanted to emphasize that it's more this than RIM probably having a hard time with QNX security.

I think bloggers and people that read them will think this is a big issue, but the truth is this is a very small portion of the market.

If sales people at Best Buy are told to answer the question about email by touching the Gmail icon most consumers are going to go "Oh, OK, and my next question is..."

Practically speaking the vast majority of people are going to be used to accessing email via Gmail or Yahoo Mail all through a browser. In this sense the RIM "solution" (or work around) is going to be more familiar to consumers than a native email client would be.

Nice article. One does wonder why it's so hard to get this done, but I trust that it is.

I was also struck by how many Apple devices you have. As a former iMac (Macbook Pro etc. etc. ) user take it from me Win7 run circles around OSX. Go to the mirror, slap you face and repeat "I will no longer be an Apple Zombie." You may have to do this many times, but trust me life outside the cult is a lot nicer than life inside it.


No email client at all. Nothing.

Sorry, but there should have been something useful included at launch. When iPads, Xooms, and every other tablet device can offer email out of the box then there is no justification for RIM not to.

See what I mean, cult members don't even read. They just hate.

There is a justification JNM that's what the whole article was about.

The original comment is based on FACT. iPad and XOOM have clients, Playbook doesn't. That doesn't seem very cultish.

There shouldn't be a need to justify RIM-known features on a device that is entering a highly competitive market. It shouldn't lack core features!

Maybe you should consider appreciating the fact that the critics want to see RIM deliver the best possible device, instead of just accepting what they produce. That sounds pretty much like a cult.

I think the reason that it's not 'that' big of an issue is that the PlayBook is offering you what they're calling "uncompromised web experience". In all honesty, I would much rather use GMAIL in a full web browser, than via an app. None can compare, even ones from Google.

That said, I still think it is laughable not to have the things that BlackBerry is most famous for at the launch.

For me the WiFi only PB would be ok without native clients for now but I am hoping that the 4G version comes out with the ability to accept calls to a bluetooth headset or onboard through its speaker. If that was the case Iwould just move my sim card to that device and drop the BB phone in my pocket.

What no one is addressing, which I would love to know, is whether BES users will eve be able to use the Tablet without the bridge. I would like to essentially use the Tablet, without the bride, to act as a second blackberry smartphone. Without the bridge, I want to mark an e-mail read on my smartphone and have it marked read on the Tablet. I want BBM to go to both at the same time under the same idea. I know it is hard, and requires a substantial change to the Blackberry platform, but without that, I am not sure I will get one.

I have many computers. Each connects to my Exchange server. When I mark an item read on one machine, it marks it read on all machines. If a machine is disconnected from the server, it catched us in synching the next time it connects. The same should be true for those who want multiple blackberry BES devices.

that's one of the most annoying things I hate - having to mark emails and Facebook notifications as "read" on both BB and browser!

I read a lot of excuses here.....they are already behind this doesnt help at all !

whats next?

will they have a new phone that doesnt make calls untill the os is updated?

I feel the same way. I love my Bold but RIM is making some mistakes that would get people fired at other companies.

Ipad, no flash, folks can live with it.
No email and folks turn their backs on it.

The tech press is going to play this "flaw" up big time.
I can here Steve J. now. No email? Good for Apple!

Watch and see folks if this bring the Playbook out half-as*ed!


I agree that the press will act this way. But I think you run a few ads where people are answering their email via gmail and I'm not sure it'll really last long as an issue.

Face it, not having flash it terrible and totally unforgivable especially since apple builds computers that run flash.

I understand that iPad 1 was a piece of shit technologically and probably couldn't handle flash, but iPad 2????

And, someone needs to remind Steve J. and the Apple fans/users about the antenna issue on the iPhone 4, which is still not fixed. Did he not tell people not to put their hands where the antenna is on the iPhone 4, and they needed to use a bumper!!!! Apple gave out free bumpers for the first two or three months of release of the iPhone 4....


"Jobs also replied to a few complaints sent to his e-mail inbox. One MacRumors reader asked Jobs what is going to be done about the signal dropping issue, and the Apple CEO replied in his typical brief manner: "Non issue. Just avoid holding it in that way."

There are no excuses here. Only explanations. I am not in a position to have to apologize for anyone. People mostly non-Blackberry users from what I read are upset because of no native e-mail app at launch. As a Blackberry user why the heck would I want yet another device on which I had to sync/backup my e-mail. My work Blackberry using BES is backed up and supported by my employer. My private Blackberry using BIS is backed up and supported by me. I back up using the Blackberry Desktop Software. Why would I want to add yet another Device to my already more than full backup schedule?

The truth is you have some dislike for Blackberry and need to justify it. So you insist that RIM become a consumer focused company. They are not a consumer focused company and I don't see why that would change. They made their name in the Enterprise market. The are an Enterprise mobile communications company that produce an Operating System as well as Software. That is where the similarity between Apple and RIM end. Apple wants to be your Pal and wants you to have fun and look cool doing it. RIM wants to be your Partner in the Enterprise and help you be secure in your communciations as well as offer you Enterprise solutions. A very small part of what they do is focused on the everyday consumer. Just look at their website and it won't take long to figure out who's business they chase.

So please stop trying to Compare Apple's to Blackberry's.

For current BB uses this is not a big issue (no email on the Playbook) but if RIM wishes to sell tons of these things they need to appeal to more then just BB users.

Releasing this without a basic function like email is a mistake and will greatly harm its debut.

The IPad and Xoom folks are going to rip this apart in the press and in ads.

Big BIG mistake RIM.

Add the email BEFORE releasing it or it will flop like the Torch. (releasing it only on one carrier
in the US and no CDMA was a BIG mistake)

I wish RIM all the luck, but they need to start acting smarter then they have lately.


I don't think it's going to be an issue initially but to be honest most people here are biased about this matter (bberry forum.) Let's be honest, if you have 3 email accounts or more like i do, it is quite easier to have them being polled into one place rather than having to check one by one.

The good thing here is the capability seems to be coming soon and the fact it won't be there at launch will not lead me to cancel my pre-order.

You probably own a BB.

If you were looking for a pad, didn't own a BB
would you buy it if it was unable to do a basic function like email?

If you say yes, I got some bridges for sale... :)

I do own a BB and their is now way I will purchase it without such a basic item.

Shame on RIM!


Hey Tim,

You are absolutelly right, i do own a bberry but i also used to own an ipad. There were few times when i checked email on the ipad over checking it on my phone and just like Kevin said in this write up i agree when he says you'll choose to do some things on one device over the other. If you are the opposite of me then i guess you're out of luck.

Nothing is perfect for sure, i hope that choosing the Playbook over the ipad2 ends up being a good decision for me.


If you have a web based email client, you can access your email. Most people use a web based email client, and although I don't know for certain I'd say it's safe to assume that >90% of all email users do.

Dude, are you dense? Of course it can do email. Just because a native client isn't present at launch doesn't mean there won't be third party clients available. And why are you oblivious to the fact that the majority of email users access their email via "real web browsers" (the PB browser = no compromise). And as the blackberry user you claim to be, you sound like a moron since you can use the bridge funtion for email purposes. People like you just need a reason to bash, but that won't matter when people get that beast of a PB in their hands, so jeeze louis guy, get a fkn clue!

Get a clue? You obviously should heed your own advice. I have four emails set up. Are you saying that I have to log into all four on the playbook just to get a complete view of all my email? What about my BES Email? Are you now suggesting that I need to VPN into the office to see that email? The biggest reason I am looking forward to the PB is to get my work emails that happen to have attachments that I can then open on the PB and actually be able to see them. Have you ever tried to work with a 17000+ line excel spreadsheet on your phone? You can bash all you want and tell us we need to get a clue, but as a real business user, the lack of email that can retrieve BES email and attachments means we can't buy or adopt this until there is an answer. I have a clue and I cannot push the PB as an enterprise or business solution due to this issue. Don't get me wrong, the reasoning for not having it are valid as I want it as secure as possible and that means it has to go through the NOC. I'm willing to wait, but how long is the huge question in my mind now.

Dude, if you are trying to work with a spreadsheet on your phone, then you really need to get a clue. No wonder you are complaining.

Look, he has a valid point. You can try and talk around it all you like but the Blackberry is a "BUSINESS" device. It uses "MS Exchange" what do peopele do in "BUSINESS"? They add "ATTACHMENTS" and these are things like "POWERPOINT", "EXCEL", "WORD", etc. The fact that Blackberry uses this funstionality as a selling point and includes "DOCS2GO" on the devices as a core app would seem to indicate that his point is not only valid but central to the issue. Don't bash him for having a valid point. Let us look at what you bring to this debate shall we. Oh yes here are your talking points, "GET A CLUE" and "YOU ARE AN IDIOT". Where can a decent debate go from there? Just saying.

Yes I would buy it and save your, "I have some Bridges." comment designed to troll. Want to know why? Of course not so I will tell you why. NOBODY (alright 1%) of non Enterprise People use e-mail clients. Why? Because you have another place to sync and backup e-mail now. You use a browser and you access your e-mail on the web. This creates a problem if you need off-line e-mail access. What would you do with offline e-mail access? Reply? You can't remember? Your offline! Maybe you are a "Power User" and you want your e-mail free and so use a service like GMail but don't want to leave your messages on the server and you are prepared to accept responsibility for your own backups. Alright you will have to wait for the native app or get a 3rd party app.

Or maybe you (like the masses) don't have the device with you that has the offline e-mail stored in your native app. Then you regret not using the web based mail solution which is an option just like on any device with a browser on the Playbook. Or maybe you (again, like the masses) have used a native e-mail client and lost e-mail when you forgot to back up and had a hardware failure or a virus. So you immediately commited back to using the web based e-mail solution which is available on the Playbook as it is on any device that has a browser.

The majority of people who are not enterprise e-mail users use a web based e-mail soultion such as GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo!, etc. Those who are enterprise customers also have web access to e-mail and it is very robust such as MS Exchange OWA. All this whining about no native e-mail client is just ridiculous. I have a Blackberry I am very pleased to access my Native Blackberry e-mail via the Blackberry Bridge. I backup my Blackberry using the Desktop Software. I don't need/want another device to sync and backup just so I can have e-mail. I have e-mail on my Blackberry handheld. It has served me and countless other Blackberry owners for years (me since 2000) and I suspect that will not change anytime soon. If RIM had failed to make a tablet I would have bought an Apple iPad and hated it. The only reason is the larger screen and my wife already has one so I don't need to introduce a 4th or 5th OS or Vendor ecosystem into my house to support.

I have to say, I think RIM would be a lot better off answering the questions the way you have done instead of being silent.

I think a lot of people including dubheaded bloggers like Walt Mossberg would be willing to accept that "Blackberry email is the most secure in the world and therefore RIM is investing in keeping that commitment to all Playbook users." For now use the browser.

Sounds much better than just the latter.

Great article

I am actually excited to use the blackberry bridge. I always carry my BB with me plus i have a laptop when i travel and i travel a lot. Just thought of having to sync another device with an email client drives me insane. Personally i think it will be hugely useful to use the playbook while i am on a plane instead of bringing out my laptop with all the limited space available.

Now i can get my emails ready to be sent as soon as i turn my network back on

Q: Will apps such as email, contacts, calendar etc. be available natively on BlackBerry PlayBook?
The BlackBerry PlayBook can be used in conjunction with a BlackBerry smartphone or it can be used on its own (i.e. standalone).
The BlackBerry Bridge feature creates a secure Bluetooth link between a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and BlackBerry smartphone allowing BlackBerry smartphone users to view and interact with the email, BBM and PIM apps on their BlackBerry smartphone using the larger BlackBerry PlayBook screen.
In addition, users can access their email via the BlackBerry PlayBook’s web browser without any need for a BlackBerry smartphone.
In a future software update for the BlackBerry PlayBook, we will also provide native e-mail, calendar, and contact apps for those customers who prefer to have these apps directly on the tablet.

source unimportant ;-)

Did you not mention native BBM on purpose? That's the difference between getting 1 PlayBook and getting 3 of them.

Am I missing something here? In my opinion one of the biggest uses of an email client as opposed to viewing online is the ability to view emails off line. And given that (at least at launch) there will only be connectivity where wifi is available, that is a major downside.
One more thing: One of the core functionalities of a tablet is browsing the web. Now what happens when I come across an email link? Without a stand alone client, am I going to have to copy and paste the address?
I think RIM should at least be highlighting some 3rd party email client, at least until their own is ready.

Great writing Kevin. Glad you are putting this into perspective to everyone. People just aren't used to a full web browser experience on a tablet yet, so using a web apps like Gmail seems 'slow' and crappy (for lack of a better word) because of the perception of using it on a phone and/or other tablets on the market. Wait till you see how blazing fast the browser is, you'll forget all about wanting a native email client.

To be honest, I'm more interested in Native BBM, the web experience on the PlayBook seems to do the trick quite well.

I too agree. I will just reach for my BlackBerry when I get an email so not having an email client on the PlayBook is not at all a big deal for me.

LoL. As someone metioned earlier, if it was another "brand" launching without a native email client you would all be over them telling them that the product is a piece of sh..! But know after they explained everything nicely to you brainwashed bb people no one needs an email client?? Ok people try and explain a business product that has no native email client, esspecially in the world on BB users. You going to argue that you have a smart phone for that. Well if you have a smart phone you dont really need a playbook is it? Next thing RIM is going to do is launch a new phone and tell you that you will be able to use the playbook only if you buy the new phone.... Talk about how naive you people are...

I think you miss the point a little bit. Yes, it would be good for Playbook to have a native email client (although BB users probably wouldn't use it). The point is that the press has latched on to this as a way to heap crap on the product when the truth is for the vast majority of people email access will not be an issue because of the browser.

Meanwhile the so-called holy grail of tablets lack stuff like flash and gets a free pass. Just dumb.

"As I'm typing this blog post I'm working in Firefox, and up top are two more open tabs - one for Gmail and one for Google Calendar. Yes, my Mac has a native client for email and calendar, but I've never used them. On my computer I access my email and calendar via the web browser. I think a lot of people do that these days. So if I have to do the same thing on the PlayBook at launch, it's not really a big deal."

EXACTLY. One big amen to that.

Most consumers these days have never touched an email client. Consumers use their web browser for personal emails.

Not on a MOBILE device! If I can get this or an iPad for the same price...let's spell this out for the consumer. On iPad, you have the option of using a mobile email client (for all its strengths and weaknesses) or going through the web to visit something like Gmail on a 10" screen. Or, you can get the Playbook, which is a 7" screen in a first-generation piece of hardware, with an unproven OS/browser (for the tablet genre), and the browser is your only option to check that email (until later). Not to mention Apple's brand recognition, coolness factor, and the library of apps.

If the tablet does nothing but give you a crappier browsing experience that you can carry in your hands, what's the point? That's the reason apps came about in the first place.

You were doing OK until you said "If the tablet does nothing but give you a crappier browsing experience...", then you blew it. It may be unproven, but that's because it's not out. Let it come out first.

"Not on a MOBILE device"

So now you have two places to store your emails remotely and get them out of sync. On your phone and your iPad.

And if someone steals the iPad? Is it secure?

You may not care, but enterprises do. The lack of an email client is actually a positive for industry - and not a negative.

It means companies will be able to evaluate security much more quickly for the Playbook than for the iPad.

Um sorry, iPad definitely wins the crappier browsing experience award IT DOESN'T EVEN HAVE FLASH!!!

And I'm sorry a product lacking something that 90% of top web sites use because the CEO decides he wants to fight with the company that makes flash is totally unforgivable. The man should be tied up and whipped rather than lauded in the press. It's just too bad that Bill Gates had to save his ass years ago when he drove apple into near bankruptcy with similar nonsense.

"We at apple will not give you a right click because we don't want two buttons on a mouse." I mean the man is a spoiled child.

When the Playbook and Android tabs come out and all have flash the iPad will be relegated to 10-15% of the market just like with desktop and laptop computers. Reason? About 10-15% of people are willing to overpay for crappier product that are well marketed.

It is critical that RIM include email functionality on pb and not rely on other bb to bridge with it in order to have push email features. This is not going to affect someone like me, however, it is not about me and it is not about RIM either. It is all about consumers, especially the undecided.. RIM should give a definite expected time for the update and that will settle the matter. God Bless BlackBerry.

I'm sure if Apple was known for their native email client and core apps and they didn't release those on their 1st tablet, you'd be killing them from here until tomorrow. Fact is Blackberry is known for the apps/clients they are leaving out... What's the point of it being called Blackberry if there is nothing Blackberry about it... Stop being so naive. I'm sure deep down you're wondering the same thing...

Yes, yes, yes! Pull out the Crackberry Kevin "Pyramid of Smartphone Functionality", and you'd have to flip it completely upside down to argue that the PlayBook is a desirable device. Everything we've heard about why we should favor BB over it's younger, cooler siblings suddenly doesn't matter, and it's okay that a company obsessed with simplicity, continuity of design, and ease of communication can't offer those in the launch version of this device they've been pimping up for over half a year! This IS a big deal.

Just RIM pushing out an unfinished product in hopes to save face. As dumb as it sounds, I wanted this PB just to have a bigger BBM and access to email without having to go into my phone... It's funny to read the comments "I'll just go to my phone if I want to send an email..." I'm sure they'll include all this at some point, but man c'mon already.... This PB has been the slowest launch. Apple announces the iPad 2 and is ready for worldwide release a few days after... We, BB users are still waiting on this and when we do get it, it's not even finished... SMDH.

Ah, Kevin. I love the site, and you do great work for the BlackBerry community. But the argument that it's okay for the Playbook not to ship with these native clients only makes sense if you presuppose that there are no other tablets worth buying, or that everything RIM creates is just automatically better than everyone else. Consumers will not be so forgiving. And I would argue that it's a much BIGGER deal that RIM's tablet would be missing these features than if Apple did it because admit it or not, most people are buying iPads as a "fun" device they can occasionally be productive on...NOT the other way around. The Playbook, on the other hand, was market as the first true "professional" tablet. So how is it that Need for Speed is pre-installed but you can't check email on it without navigating the web browser. This is devastating. Of course some people will still buy it, but a lot of those people would buy anything BB branded on name alone anyway. RIM is gutting out the one thing they are actually well-regarded for (the "people"/communication device). Even for those who happen to have the particular BB's needed to tether, I really wonder how many of them will even bother, when they can just click and email icon on their phone and be in their email/calendar within 5 seconds. This was a critical error for RIM, who is quickly becoming the "Nokia" of smartphones - sure, they're pushing units, but they're also doing more to hold the genre back then they are to move it forward.

You do not have to go to the browser to see e-mail. You can use Blackberry Bridge to access the email interface on your Blackberry device which is already configured most likely (if not then RIM is not at fault you are) on your BB using BIS. Nice clean simple no 2nd or 3rd device to Sync or backup. Think about e-mail usage today. Practically everyone uses a browser to access their GMail or Yahoo! or Windows Live or whatever. Why? Becuase it saves your e-mail and contacts negating a manual backup. Enterprise Business users have BES same thing e-mail, Calendar, contacts are on the Exchange server and backed up centrally. Enterprises will want to restrict users to BES for a variety of reasons, Security, Training Costs, Documentation, Etc. Blackberry made its name in the Enterprise while Apple and Android did not. People are welcome to criticize RIM for not having the perfect device but the truth is such a device does not exist. People want to compare Apple's to Blackberries, to Robots and this never works. As for how Apple would be crtitcized for not having a native e-mail app at launch such critics would be wrong as well. Apple iPads are consumption devices that may be added to the Enterprise. Blackberry's are the Enterprise by design and so any comparison is flawed from its inception. Remember our President carries a Blackberry not an iPhone, Android, or Windows Mobile Phone. Apart from his preference for the device ask yourself why his handlers were able/willing to change practice in this instance. Look at the whitepapers on Blackberry.com and they are Enterprise Leaning for a reason. RIM Blackberry is an Enterprise leaning company. Period. We need to stop trying to bend them into being a consumer focused entity. Their are plenty of Businesses and Governments to purchase their products and sustain their growth and profiability. They are pioneers in the Enterprise communications market and this will continue long after the iPad has moved into using Roman Numerals to identify its latest toy.

Much to do about nothing! The haters will find a reason to nit pic! If I want to see my email, I will go to rr.com ! That works for me! I am getting the play book, only question that I have is, 16g, 32g or 64g?

Kevin, you probably have the iPad 2 by now. Can you really see liking the Playbook? Come on, be honest. It is a serious thing to have no native e-mail out of the box. Later updates should not be for stuff that everyone gets all over the place on devices now. Rim just didn't work fast enough for this tablet to be usable. It is nothing but an Android toy now. I hope they sell some, but it looks really bad for them with this product. Maybe in a year or so, it will be worth using. I like their phones, but.......

I've read this article a few times trying to figure out the BBM. So playbook will not have a native bbm, but you can use the BBM on your phone via the playbook?

From an Enterprise perspective not having the email client isn't going to be that big of deal for place that already have Blackberries. By getting out the Playbook as it is, it allows for those companies to start using tablets by leveraging their existing blackberry investment (and i think get more out of their Blackberries, users may finally be able to leave their laptops at the office if they can access email and attachments on a larger device). It'll also, keep those Blackberry shops from investing in an ipad solution, one that won't really leverage the existing blackberries.

I think it'll all be just fine. The question remains if carriers will be slow to do OS upgrades (VZW anyone?). I don't think it's an issue if the device is wifi only, but start adding 3G/4G radios.....

I'm not a blackberry owner currently. I use an android phone, an iPad tablet, and a Windows computer. I have native e-mail support on my iPad and see absolutely no reason to ever use it, typing on a large touchscreen is tedious and ridiculous. (especially if you're holding the device with one hand). If an e-mail client is really an that big of an issue for any consumer, then they should steer clear of the iPad and Tab while they're at it and drop their money on a Netbook or Laptop with a physical keyboard instead. Otherwise they will be disappointed with the experience regardless. To harp on such a ridiculous point as native e-mail access on any tablet PC is really pulling at strings for a reason to complain---even if you had it, chances you would not use it. There are simply better mediums out there for typing.

Cannot agree. I have a BB, a laptop and an iPad and I use all three for email depending on where I am and what I am doing.

The issue here is the picture RIM is painting to the paying public. Of course there are die-hard fans who would pay out for this as soon as it's released, just the same as there are people who would queue up outside an Apple store and shell out for the next tablet/phone/idevice...

BUT, RIM is going to have a hell of a job to convince the great unwashed and (let's be honest) a percentage of business users if something as basic as email/calendar/contact applications are missing.

And as someone else mentioned, not easy to browse the web if you are not connected to a wifi network.

well if it does not have basic email - I simply won't buy it

all the other tablets on the market have it .. they are just digging them selves a into a hole with out including it on the launch. The competition has it .. why would I spend 500+ on a device that does not have email. FAIL.

Also should mention that Microsoft has announced a few months ago that they will be developing Office 365 that hooks up tthe Cloud for the Playbook. This includes hooking up through the Microsoft exchange servers and Outlook 365.

Still don't know why you'd want to do this. But it's there.

Stop comparing iPad to Playbook... Most non BB users probably don't rely or prefer a native email client because they are so used to probably logging in via a webpage (gmail.com etc...) or have not been accustomed or spoiled with a built in email client. BB users however are used to at least having a native client available since it's a major part of the BB design. It's hard for me to grasp the response from a BB user to say "Well If I want to email someone I'll just grab my phone".... Isn't this whyyyyy your are choosing a PB? For the Blackberry experience on a bigger level and not having to reach in your pocket for another device with the same name on it?

"So instead, RIM is taking a lesson from Apple here and is going to market with an arguably unfinished product and will instead rollout further features when they are ready"

Sorry Kevin but I have to disagree with you here. If the playbook was the "first" tablet to be released then this argument may hold better weight. Yea...iphone wasn't the first smartphone but the user experience that it provided was a first of its kind which made it easier to tolerate the device not having those features. Trying to say RIM is just doing what Apple did doesn't really help much.

RIM (and every other company making tablets) are playing catch up right now. There is no one that can argue that Apple dominates the tablet market right now. For them to release their product without a native email client is going to hurt them a lot. RIM's selling point is their reliable communication (email, BES/BIS, BBM). How is it a good business move to release a product that lacks the one thing everyone loves about your company?

I do own a blackberry 9650 and an iPhone. I also manage a BES for the company that I work for. I will not be approving the playbook as a supported device for my office until the BES integration is there. This integration is what makes RIM the better choice for businesses. For large company's this is a big thing and I can see it hurting RIM's initial sales a lot.

I don't own an iPad or any other tablet yet. I'm still waiting on the one that comes with a full OS. For some people, not having the native client is just fine. For others, especially businesses with BES, this is a deal breaker. I just don't see how there can be a demand for a RIM product that doesn't include the features that make RIM what it is.

Great article!!! just a quick question for everyone..

I currently have a BB Torch and planning on getting the PB on the 19th. Since it doesnt have a native email client, am I gonna be able to access my exchange email on the PB when I bridge the BB and the PB?


RIM should make sure there is a BASIC POP email client even if there is no BES NOC access or PIM. POP email is all they need to get going then from the BIS. Get the other stuff on there in a fast update.

- Seriously this is the most retarded thing they could have done - if they do not ship with access to a email client. They will destroy their reputation .. they will be the laughing stock of the tech world no one will ever care about them any more. ( this is my opinion) People are already losing faith in them - For a company that prides them selves on Email to not launch with Email .. is simply bad.

I am sorry this is beyond anything I would have ever expected from this company. No average users will care why there is no email .. they simply won't buy it. And get the next best thing

I agree with you fully. It's not that people are too lazy to go to a website to read their email, it's that RIM prides itself on their communication features. Without these features the playbook is just another no name tablet. It can't even be compared to the android tablets. They are basically slapping themselves in the face to release the playbook without them.

While I have no use for a native e-mail client, RIM has been getting bashed a lot for this. Instead of saying it will be available in the nebulous "future", say this summer or something so they can shut the haters up on this item. The rope-a-dope may work in boxing, but letting your critics beat on you constantly in the tech industry with zero response won't work.

I would actually find it very insulting if the playbook would come shipped with the famous and fabled BlackBerry email for free out of the box! I'm paying good money for my BlackBerry Internet Service! Companies are paying for their BES! Therefore, as a BB user I can bridge my service to another BB device.

It would be desastrous for RIM to come out and say 'here you have our service for free on a wifi tablet, android and apple users!'

Noooo, to all the complaining people: buy a blackberry, or shut up about not having blackberry email! Want regular mail, download a 3rd party app or visit gmail.com.

And in the mean time, count your overseas blessings that you at least have pricing, pre ordering and a release date.... :p

Who uses an email client, except for work? I certainly don't and haven't done for years. Having said that I do have a BlackBerry for email.

But even if I didn't have a BlackBerry I'd use an iPhone or Android device. The email client issue is a waste of column inches. It simply isn't an issue except in the minds of negative analysts who have made a killing trading RIM options and an odd handful of people who evidently read offline email but don't have a smartphone.

BlackBerry email is delivered over BIS. Which reading between the lines of the above article is I suppose the real reason there's no email client since BIS isn't available over wi-fi (perhaps the carriers pressured RIM?). My guess is the email client will ship with wireless versions of Playbook later in the summer.

As for BBM. It's also available when you're using BlackBerry Bridge. And if you don't currently have a BlackBerry, you won't be using BBM anyway.

There are lots of valid reasons to have concern about the Playbook, but email isn't one of them.

What RIM doesn't seem to have done a good job of, despite enormous effort is educate us as to the advantages of the Playbook.

I've just completed an evaluation for my current enterprise client, and in almost every way the Playbook matches or exceeds the capabilities of other tablet devices. In some cases it trounces the opposition. Perhaps they'll start a more aggressive advertising campaign at launch.

Please RIM!!!!

Go back to making phones. You have not come out with a phone for almost a year now, and it is time to replace my Bold. I don't want to leave BB, but will start looking around!

A new RIM product with no email support and no PIM. You've got to be kidding. Email is what RIM is known for. Also turning towards Android for app support since the native SDK's aren't near completion. Uggg I want PlayBook to succeed but this is such a flop lineup for a launch.

I don't even want to look at PlayBook for another 6 months. Another really great boat completely missed by RIM.

I'm not understanging what the gripe is. Users can still access their emails from the web browser (Which alot of users currently do now). Google, Yahoo, Hotmail and many other email servers are accessed through the cloud. Kevin isn't stating you cant access emails, he stating you cant access using a native application for the time being. You can still read, write, forward, reply to all your email. Eventually the native cllient will arrive and i bet alot of people will still use the web browser to access their email..... geeze

I'm amazed at how immature some of you people are. Will the world end if you don't get to play with your toy in the next 5 minutes?

I think most of the people that will rush to buy a Playbook are BB users. It looks like you will be able to use the PB to manage your BES/BIS stuff on a larger screen with the Bridge feature. What's wrong with that for the initial phase?

Of course, the core apps should be released within a few weeks to answer the critics and desires of the larger market.

I'm guessing that all of the people acting like this is the end of RIM if native email isn't there - have never tried to write complex software and think it's a simple thing that can be done quickly.

I despise Apple and think that RIM has a good chance of the PB being a success if it meets certain needs of business and a portion of the consumer market too.

Let's be real, there are lots and lots of tablets coming out this year and people use a variety of factors when deciding what to buy. As long as the core apps show up fairly soon, the PB will be okay. There is still a long way to go in this market.

This is not good for RIM. But if you have a BB you can bridge so not really that big of a deal. It is a big deal for non BB owners. So I agree shame on RIM

I have read the all these comments and people have no faith in rim. unlike apple a simple push of an updated os probably fix the email issue. a bigger deal breaker for me would have been no flash like really. But if i own a blackberry isn't the whole experience is to sync my berry using blackberry bridge connect and access my email calendat and bbm via my playbook. that seems way cooler to me anyway. Wake up people you are too busy wisihing for RIM to be bigger than apple. Apple consumers will never admit to the benefits of berries or vice versa with their products. I think this will be a solid product and the pairing it with mu phone will look sweet and make fan boys jealous.

To us BB users it is not and issue. But we want everyone to buy a PB and that is the problem for non BB owners.

I have a Blackberry Storm 2 that says RIM cannot be trusted (or is not competent enough) to provide software updates. Buy a tablet that has everything you need, and you need e-mail.

You can check your mail on the web. You don't like it, then go and buy yourself something else. Simple.

I keep reading how people keep saying how great and flawless the iPad2 is... Below are some of the issues that iPad2 users are having:

1. IMPORTANT!! The iPad2 does not recharge when connected to MOST computers. The tech support says that only the newest iMacs and Macbook Pros's can support the 10W requirement. So please don't count on USB recharging.

2. Another common report is that safari is pretty cranky. When moving from one page to another, the user often have text from the previous page stuck on the screen over which the new page loaded. The only way out is to restart safari after completely killing it.

3. Some QC issues (back-light bleed north east of home button). No resolution bump (even though the panels are being manufactured), and poor cameras. (***I wonder if Jobs is going to say non-issue, just look away... !!! )

4. The iPad's screen resolution hasn't budged, photo quality is mediocre, there's still no Adobe Flash support, and ports for HDMI, USB, and SD all require adapters.

There is nothing blackberry fanboys cant rationalize. RIM entire brand is based on great email and the playbook launches with..........wait for it..........NO EMAIL..

The playbook is already late to the party and now its coming as an incomplete product. Wow.

Rim/Blackberry has forgotten where they came from. The reason my wife and I have Blackberrys becaus there is no other system that supports organizational features like the calendar,email, texting, etc. like Rim. I certainly wont consider Samsung Tab or Android based but IPAD I would. Rim go back to your niche!!!!!!

I am a hair stylest who uses for business My main use for a business tablet is the Calendar
and E-Mail. how can REM even call this a business Tablet with the core apps. also why is it
takeing so long for the 9900 to come out and will at&t even get it.