New BlackBerry PlayBook video

RIM posted a new video of their PlayBook tablet to YouTube today:

They’re clearly going off in their own direction, away from the iPad and most of the Android tablet makers. The PlayBook appears to have been designed specifically as an physical extension of the BlackBerry smartphone.

Only it’s not really an extension of its apps and data: it’s an extension of its data connection and its set of trusted associations. If your BlackBerry is within range of the tablet, then this tablet will have secure and trusted relationships with all of your mail, contacts, and schedule data. And your corporate network will trust it just as much as your phone. The video shows the PlayBook connecting to a corporate server’s mobile apps, using a popular client system.

An interesting line from the video suggests that all of your PlayBook’s confidential data is removed from the device when the connection to the BlackBerry is broken.

(WHAT?!? You mean I have to have my BlackBerry handy? I need to drain two batteries?!?)


No, no. That’s only a dumb scheme if you think of the PlayBook as a consumer device, like the iPad. If they’re trying to sell them to IT managers instead of consumers, it’s an interesting play. To those folks, this invisible umbilical means that their lives won’t be complicated by a dumbass user (likely the kind who’s paid enough to own an estate with a living chessboard in which each of the game pieces is a painted giraffe) who loses a tablet somewhere.

It reinforces my impression of BlackBerry as the kind of OS device that people are issued as employees, as opposed to products that they purchase as free-willed consumers.

In any event, it looks as though RIM is employing the Joshua Tactic for entering an intensely-competitive marketplace. That’s the scheme where you tell yourself that “the only way to win is not to play.” If someone complains “the PlayBook is no iPad,” their immediate and correct response is “Yeah. Neither is a waffle iron. What’s your point?” We forget that it’s actually desirable for companies to make products that make sense for them and their customers.

I should point out that I know nothing about the PlayBook above what I’ve seen in videos. But conceptually…this is interesting.

10 thoughts on “New BlackBerry PlayBook video

  1. Jerry

    I had some hands-on time with the PlayBook at CES, and I was impressed with the performance of the hardware and of QNX. As an IT manager, it is compelling for corporate use, but I haven’t had too many (any, actually) employees ask if we’re going to support it.

    We’re already on a path to support the iPad in our environment, and we’re going to evaluate alternatives to BlackBerry for smartphones. Our employees are looking for something beyond really good integration with corporate e-mail, contacts, and calendaring. They want apps and a nice web experience, something RIM hasn’t been able to deliver. I carry a BlackBerry for work and an iPhone for pleasure. I’d love to carry just one (guess which one?)

    @Dustin makes a good point about the name. I’ve never, ever seen anyone having fun on their Blackberry. It’s interesting that they’ve named it the PlayBook.

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  3. Cody

    Do you guys not watch sports? A PlayBook: what a coach uses to make decisive and strategic decisions on the field or on court. It’s fitting.

  4. Matthew Frederick

    Quite reminiscent of the Palm Foleo concept, victim of infanticide due to the nearly-complete lack of consumer interest, with a different form factor.

    The corporate data security is a different take, though I do wonder why the tablet can’t be just as secure as the BlackBerry; the latter is significantly more likely to be misplaced, dropped out of a pocket, etc.

  5. James Bailey

    Sigh, missing plug-in. I could switch my browser to pretend to be an iPad but I don’t care enough.

  6. Tim Owens

    Assuming that is the direction they are going (and it matches my assumption based on the way it has been marketed thus far and the way RIM seems to continue to want to align themselves as a company) I think they’re in for a hurting. The reason being I think the days of large Fortune 500 companies going with RIM simply because of the expensive idiots are dwindling. iOS has a lot of really good Enterprise support in the form of integrated options and third party solutions. The demand from employees is something IT departments have a hard time ignoring continually when the cries from everyone are similar to Jerry “We already have an iPhone and love it, it supports Exchange which our company uses, what are we missing here and why are you making me carry a second device and buying a new server?”

    Just my 2c from a university employee that saw his employer go from a brand new Blackberry Enterprise Server and no iOS support to full Activesync support with all iOS devices in the past year. The iPad was a catalyst for that change.

  7. Brian


    That’s not at all what a playbook is! A playbook in sports is a book which describes all your plays and the codes associated with them (which one uses to call the play). This is a football term, primarily, but also applies to other sports. Each player has to know what to do when the play is called.

    Still though, the Playbook name makes very little, if any, sense. RIM is doomed with or without it, though, IMHO.

  8. Mark Lambert

    Good entry Andy.

    The big problem that RIM faces is that consumerization is transforming IT rapidly. For the past 5 years or so (leading up to my departure from MSFT after a decade), I was finding more and more frequently that any Win Mo victory we may have won vs RIM and the BES in an account was increasingly hollow.

    The reason is that the economics of consumerization are just too sweet for a CIO. End users are willing to *buy their own device* as long as it is an iPhone (and now possible Android). Given that Apple and MSFT were mutually smart enough to license EAS to that device, and Google and MSFT followed suit (despite the hatred all around), means that EAS has become the lowest common denominator.

    From a CEO/CFO standpoint, if users are willing to spend their own money to be able to work on the road, and IT can verify that yes, they can get to Exchange, “personal responsibility phones” are a home run. Security has taken a backseat, as it always does, to economics. The subset of EAS security policy features that the iPhone supports was deemed “enough”. Android isn’t there yet and so the iPhone remains favored, but it will get there.

    So RIM faces the same challenge that, ironically, MSFT itself does. And that is “can it compete at Best Buy”. I had many CIOs tell me “dont talk to me about Windows CE, Windows Mobile, Windows Phone, whatever any more… Win that battle at Best Buy”

    I don’t think RIM can win there, so I think we will continue to see their fortunes dwindle.

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