Smartphones

BlackBerry PlayBook: Another RIM compromise?

'Couldn't execute fast enough' could be RIM's epitaph...

The BlackBerry PlayBook's lack of calendar apps and native email is a failing not a feature, says silicon.com's Natasha Lomas - and a sign that RIM can't deliver fast enough on its mobile ambitions.

The BlackBerry PlayBook, RIM's first tablet, has launched in the US. There's still no official UK launch date but British BlackBerry lovers shouldn't be kept waiting too long. But there is something all PlayBook users are going to have to wait for: native email and calendar apps.

RIM is launching the tablet with a feature it calls BlackBerry Bridge. RIM's big idea here is to use the PlayBook as an extension to its BlackBerry smartphones. Essentially as a reader. No data is stored on the tablet. The PlayBook must be connected to a BlackBerry smartphone by a secure Bluetooth umbilical to access BlackBerry email, calendar and the BBM instant-messaging service.

RIM argues that this approach is better for security since data isn't cached on the PlayBook, which means once the Bluetooth link is severed, all that sensitive info is returned to the phone for safekeeping.

The BlackBerry PlayBook shown next to a BlackBerry Curve

The BlackBerry PlayBook, right, has to link to a BlackBerry smartphone, such as the BlackBerry Curve, for emailPhoto: Natasha Lomas/silicon.com

It's worth pointing out that RIM has said it will eventually update the PlayBook with native email and calendar apps - thereby neatly undermining its security argument. Either having native email and calendar on the tablet is insecure or it's not. It can't be both.

Critics of the PlayBook believe that shipping a tablet without native email and calendar is as close to crazy as they can imagine. They say the PlayBook is more lame donkey than prize racehorse unless you already own a BlackBerry smartphone. And even then it's hardly mobile computing at its convenient best to whip out your tablet, whip out your smartphone, fire up a Bluetooth link to connect the two and keep them in close proximity while you check your email on the tablet, hoping no one nips off with your smartphone while you're distracted - because you won't be able to access your email without it.

BlackBerry email, calendar, BBM apps on PlayBook

The BlackBerry email, calendar, BBM apps on PlayBook - just add a smartphonePhoto: Natasha Lomas/silicon.com

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