updated 11:40 pm EST, Sun January 9, 2011
RIM says PlayBook will only get native mail later
The recently tested BlackBerry PlayBook won't have native support for core messaging features when it ships, the company's Senior Product Manager Ryan Bidan said in a video interview (below). Initially, the BlackBerry Messenger, calendar and e-mail functions will need the BlackBerry Bridge pairing feature that shares a BlackBerry phone's services over Bluetooth. True local access is coming but doesn't have a definite roadmap.
A RIM representative hinted to Electronista at CES that there may be apps to support iOS devices or other platforms, but no details were official so far.
The lack of software could be an obstacle for the tablet as it would limit its appeal mostly to existing BlackBerry owners rather than those using competing phones. RIM has repeatedly said that the PlayBook is meant as a "professional-grade" tablet and that the bridging keeps the tight security intact, but it has also pitched the design as friendly for gaming and video, entering it into an environment where BlackBerry use is on the decline.
Bidan nonetheless promised that RIM's decision to go with a Wi-Fi only tablet would help fix the problem quickly. The PlayBook won't be forced to undergo carrier testing and thus can get updates as soon as they're made public, rather than having to wait for separate carrier approval and possible restrictions on apps. Many BlackBerry phones often face delays of months for basic updates or don't get patches at all.