updated 08:00 pm EDT, Thu April 14, 2011
RIM defends PlayBook against mixed early reviews
RIM's co-CEOs shot back at mixed early BlackBerry PlayBook reviews that savaged the tablet for the unfinished state of its software. The company's Jim Balsille didn't believe it was "fair" that people attacked the PlayBook for the lack of native e-mail, calendaring and other core apps. The device was perfectly usable by the roughly 60 million existing BlackBerry owners, he told Bloomberg, as they could bridge their phone to the PlayBook and check the information stored on the BlackBerry itself.
"A lot of the people that want this want a secure and free extension of their BlackBerry," he argued.
His co-executive Mike Lazaridis in turn disputed Apple CEO Steve Jobs' criticism of seven-inch tablets and argued the opposite, that the PlayBook's small size was "superior." It was more portable and easier to hold for long stretches of time. Lazaridis revealed that the PlayBook's design had been inspired by Moleskine's "iconic" notebooks, which were used by Ernest Hemingway and other famous creatives.
There had also been concerted research, since RIM wanted a device large enough to play video with a fast processor but which would stay relatively portable.
Balsillie was confident that appealing to the faithful with the design was enough. "I like our chances for a lot of share," he said.
The company's chances aren't known. It has been counting on wide initial availability in North America and major publicity but may have difficulty appealing to the roughly two thirds of US smartphone owners that haven't bought the BlackBerry in recent months. At pricing identical to the iPad 2, RIM will also need to convince buyers that the much smaller app count of about 3,000, the lack of native e-mail until the summer, and the smaller screen size aren't necessarily liabilities.
Apple sold 14.8 million original iPads in 2010, a large portion of which were to buyers who didn't already use Apple's phone platform.