updated 08:55 am EST, Tue December 28, 2010
PlayBook may be delayed by battery issues
The BlackBerry PlayBook might be facing significant battery problems that has led to a slight delay, Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu heard from sources. The tablet in its current state allegedly has battery life of just "a few hours" where the Galaxy Tab often gets six and the iPad 10. It may need re-engineering and could even demand a heavier battery, negating much of the weight advantage of a seven-inch tablet.
"[This is] likely why [RIM] pushed out its launch to the May 2011 quarter," Wu said, referring to the March to May timeframe. "Keep in mind that QNX wasn't originally designed for mobile environments but rather for devices like network equipment and automobiles where battery life isn't as much [of] a constraint."
RIM is making "good progress" on the tablet, but developers are still uncertain both because of the split between BlackBerry 6 and QNX (BlackBerry Tablet OS) and because of the poor state of BlackBerry App World. There are "simply not enough apps and users" to help generate money, the analyst said, and it wasn't certain the tablet would fix the problem.
Wu maintained a pessimistic view of RIM's initial sales for the PlayBook and that it might move just 700,000 of the devices in all of 2011, well below the one to eight million others are estimating. A lack of content beyond the Amazon MP3 and Kobo deals, such as apps and videos, may hold it back where Apple's iPad thrives on the elements the PlayBook currently lacks.
RIM hasn't had an opportunity to comment on the alleged problem. It has already said that it would start shipping the PlayBook at the end of its current quarter, which ends in February, but that revenues from sales wouldn't come in until the quarter starting in March. Regardless of timing, a reduced lifespan if real could significantly hurt the PlayBook's chances at success. Battery life has been a cornerstone of the iPad and has been considered an important aspect of any tablet, since the device can always be on-hand where a netbook or notebook usually needs to be plugged in.