updated 03:15 pm EST, Mon December 6, 2010
RIM talks PlayBook UI and Apple at Rogers event
RIM's David Neale at the same event that detailed Rogers' PlayBook plans also showed a demo of the device itself (video below) and took several shots at Apple in the process. Running a daily build of the BlackBerry Tablet OS, the slate was shown using swipe gestures to manage its multitasking interface much like the card system in HP's webOS. It was running quickly and could handle a 1080p video, the web browser and the photo viewer smoothly, even while running on just one of the two cores.
Neale also addressed a handful of technical questions, confirming that the PlayBook would support 4G at some point. He didn't mention which network types were coming, but Verizon already named RIM as one of the LTE supporters in early 2011. Rogers and other major Canadian providers will also be using LTE.
The carrier hosting the event also gave RIM an opportunity to answer to Apple's criticisms of small tablets and wider attacks on the quality of App World. He disagreed that it was "some small screen in between" and sidestepped questions of the suitability of the interface. The PlayBook was lighter, according to Neale, and also had the advantage of exactly matching the A5 page layout used in Europe. Variety was also a justification in itself.
"There is room in the world for different shapes," he said.
RIM would further count on sheer features to make the difference. With a dual-core 1GHz processor, HDMI output and micro USB, it was about real mobile computing and not just "making a cellphone get big," Neal claimed, taking an implied shot at the iPad's features being similar to those in the iPhone 4 that followed. Some of the claimed advantages of the PlayBook are expected to go away by the time it ships in or near March, since Apple and other competitors should be launching similar-performing models at the time with dual cameras and other additions.
Neale more directly addressed complaints about the low selection and high prices of apps at BlackBerry App World, which just recently reached 15,000 apps where its rivals often have near 10 or 20 times many titles. RIM had originally tailored App World for business, and so many of the apps there are still focused on workers. The company was in a "transition" as it moved towards apps friendly to a wider audience and would change, he said. While he didn't confirm specific titles were coming, he acknowledged the popularity of games like Angry Birds as evidence of the direction the PlayBook would take.