RIM’s PlayBook 2.0 OS finally out but is it too late?

Almost a year after the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet was introduced, Research In Motion has delivered a new OS that brings a native e-mail client to the device. PlayBook OS 2.0 is probably what the first iteration of the tablet should have been, but a year later, the improvements might not be enough for the device to succeed.
Initial reviews of the 7-inch BlackBerry Playbook did not criticize thedevice’s hardware; it was the software that was the problem. A tabletfrom a company known for its e-mail communication services lacked anative e-mail client, a healthy app ecosystem, and even a potentiallykiller feature that was promised: the ability to run Android apps.

Fast-forward 11 months later and PlayBook OS 2.0 is here, available asa free over the air upgrade. The update brings native e-mail with aunified inbox, contact and calendar apps, a video store app, and theBlackBerry Bridge 2.0 app allows aBlackBerry smartphone to be used aremote control for the tablet.

There’s also social networking (Facebook and Twitter) integration, afile manager, folders for apps and improved Web browsing, and RIM saidthousands of Android-specific apps will be added to the BlackBerry AppWorld, which can the run in the new Runtime environment. The keyboardwas improved as well, with auto correction and predictive textcompletion.

Too little, too late?

The software was what let down the PlayBook, and it showed it sales:last year the company shipped – not sold – some 800,000 tablets, manyof which gathered dust in warehouse shelves as RIM tried to flog themwith various price cuts and discountsthroughout the year.

From the initial price of $500, you can buy a new 16GB PlayBook forjust over $200 on Amazon,and the $700 64GB model is just $321. Those prices, combined with thefresh software update, could push the sales of the tablet (that’sactually a good price for the specs compared to an $200 Amazon KindleFire tablet), but it’s probably too late.

Those who wanted an inexpensive 7-inch tablet that can do e-mail, apps,video, music already got one – the Kindle Fire is the number twotabletby sales (more than 3 million) in just a few months since release,which is ironic considering Amazon used the PlayBook hardware base forthe Fire.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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