updated 08:10 pm EST, Tue December 7, 2010
RIM CEO hints at larger PlayBooks in store
RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis' turn at an interview at the D: Dive Into Mobile conference confirmed that larger versions of the BlackBerry PlayBook were coming. He was confident that the seven-inch model was "just the perfect size," but there were "plans for different sizes," he said when asked. When they would come and what dimensions they would have weren't said.
Using the QNX-rooted BlackBerry Tablet OS gave RIM an edge in multi-core processing beyond just the PlayBook, Lazaridis said, though he wouldn't see them come to smart phones until he could get dual-core processors that can deal with smartphone sizes. Staffers talking to Electronista and other outlets have usually hinted at the platform replacing BlackBerry 6 across the entire line, possibly as soon as 2011.
While likely in development for awhile, the extra sizes may end up being hedges against Apple criticisms of seven-inch tablets. The iPad maker's Steve Jobs insisted that the size was too small since user elements either had to get too small or else lost much of their advantage by being too close to a smartphone size.
The executive also fired criticism back at Apple as well as Google. He thought the two might have trouble in the long term as both had started with a phone OS and had to upsize it for tablets. "We’re starting with a bona-fide mobile computing platform for tablets," Lazaridis said of BlackBerry Tablet OS, which itself is based on QNX. Google on Monday was already showing its answer with a demo of a Motorola Android 3.0 tablet whose OS was much more optimized for larger screens.
Flash resurfaced as a topic. Everyone was using Flash on PCs and Macs, so it would be natural to use it on a tablet to get at the same content. "Why would you limit yourself?" he asked. When it was pointed out that Apple was selling many iPads without having to use Flash, the co-leader insisted it was "really early days" and that he would be proven right later.
Enterprise threats from Apple and Google weren't major issues since, like a highway, multiple different brands could co-exist without destroying each other. He didn't address a recent leak that showed JPMorgan choosing iPads over PlayBooks for a trial project with staff.
The conversation further put RIM on the defensive with Lazaridis having to explain market share losses. RIM "invented the smarpthone," Lazaridis said and was making a strategic decision based on its experience to focus on world share rather than concentrate on the US, where the share hit may have been much more severe. Much of its recent success has been in the developing world or newer markets where prepaid BlackBerry phones dominate.