Sad PlayBook :(

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An update was just posted to the official Inside BlackBerry blog with some sad news on the status of PlayBook OS 2.0 for the BlackBerry PlayBook. While a stripped-down developer beta version of PlayBook OS 2.0 is already available, it's now going to be February before PlayBook owners should expect to see it available for download. Also sad news here is that BBM on 2.0 will only be available via BlackBerry Bridge to those who also own a BlackBerry Smarpthone (more on that below). Here's the full update from David Smith, Sr. VP on the BlackBerry PlayBook team:

We know that many of you are looking forward to BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0, and we wanted to provide you with an update on the progress that we're making.

As much as we'd love to have it in your hands today, we've made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users. And here's what we're doing to accomplish that.

First off, we have decided to defer the inclusion of the BBM application to a subsequent BlackBerry PlayBook OS release. We are committed to developing a seamless BBM solution that fully delivers on the powerful, push based messaging capabilities recognized today by BlackBerry® users around the world and we're still working on it. In the meantime, BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to continue to use BlackBerry Bridge to securely access BlackBerry Messenger on the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet's high resolution display.

Secondly, we are excited to now be providing developers with the gold release of the native SDK for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet as well as a beta of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 (launched last week at BlackBerry DevCon Americas). The developer beta allows developers to begin porting their native apps to the PlayBook platform. In the following months, the developer kit will be updated with the full Cascades animation and UI engine that was first demonstrated at BlackBerry DevCon. We expect that the developer beta will generate thousands of new applications for BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0.

Shortly we will also be starting a series of closed betas of BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 with select enterprise customers from our Early Adopter Program (EAP). These betas will be rolled out over the course of this year and are an important next step to bringing our unmatched enterprise app deployment, device manageability, security and email integration capabilities to the tablet category. The betas will be conducted within global enterprise environments and will test the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet solution from end-to-end within corporate IT infrastructures. Feedback and improvements from these betas will benefit the overall BlackBerry PlayBook customer experience.

We believe BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 will deliver a great experience for our customers, building on the powerful performance introduced with BlackBerry PlayBook tablet earlier this year. The software update will add advanced integrated email, calendar and contact apps, a new video store, as well as new functionality that will allow your BlackBerry smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook to work together even better.

For the enterprise, we're addressing many barriers to tablet adoption, including device manageability and enterprise application deployment. Enterprises will uniquely have the ability to manage tablets from a centralized server, while BlackBerry Balance ensures a seamless user experience for personal and professional needs and gives CIOs the peace of mind that corporate data is secure. Plus BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 will provide dedicated shelf space inside the BlackBerry App World storefront to make approved enterprise applications easily available to an organization's end users. Together these features will help change the way enterprises view and use tablets.

So when could an end user get the new update? We expect to deliver the new BlackBerry PlayBook OS to customers in February 2012 and we'll continue to keep you updated as we progress to the launch.

- David J. Smith, SVP, BlackBerry PlayBook, Research In Motion

Between PlayBook OS 2.0, BBX and BBX phones, the vision of what RIM / BlackBerry is working toward is pretty clear, and I truly feel it's a compelling vision and RIM is making all the right moves. The BIG thing for RIM right now is execution of that vision, and updates like this show that RIM is just not quite as far a long in this technical transition as we have been hoping. We knew that was the case based on DevCon announcements (or lack thereof) last week, and this reaffirms that.

On the BlackBerry Messenger front, we've talked on many occassions now about this being a challenge for RIM. The ultimate goal is for the BlackBerry ID (BBID) to be the single user identity on RIM's systems, with a single BBID being able to map to multiple devices. So if I own a BlackBerry Smartphone and a BlackBerry tablet, I could have BBM on both devices but they would be identical - same contact list and everything would be mapped and mirrrored back through the BBID. Currently the way the platform is designed, you have an active contact list per active device pin. We knew this would be a big hurdle for RIM to overcome, and it's obvious it's taking some time. I do think leaving BBM off until this is fixed is the right decision. It would be weird to have a BlackBerry phone and tablet and have to manage to separate BBM contact lists.

My hope in all of this is that the release of PlayBook OS 2.0 will correspond with the release of the first BBX phone. Knowing that the BBM issue won't really apply to phones (that's where native BBM will live), I'm hoping this points to a February/March release. The Consumer Electronics Show is in January 2012 in Las Vegas. I'd love to see a BBX Phone get displayed there, and it follow up with availability the next month. Thumbs are crossed!

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