In a recent blog post, Research in Motion (RIM) announced that the release of their anticipated BlackBerry PlayBook Operating System (OS) 2.0 will be delayed until February. No official launch date has been announced, only that the company wanted to make sure that the upgraded tablet OS has fully met the expectations of its customers and developers. It is a bold move on the part of RIM, as releasing the new OS in February means missing out on the holiday shopping season. Many analysts are raising their eyebrows at RIM for this unexpected and risky move.
PlayBook is BlackBerry's answer to the tablet PC. The main difference between the PlayBook tablet and its biggest rival, the iPad tablet, is that the BlackBerry device was designed for professional use, where the Apple tablet was designed with personal use in mind. Of course, either of these tablets can be used for personal and professional tasks, but the PlayBook has a few advantages on a professional level. For example, one of the main advantages of any BlackBerry device, is that BlackBerry has a dedicated network just for its customers. This means faster browsing and internet connection and more secure servers for confidential documents.
One of the reasons that this upgrade for the PlayBook OS was so highly anticipated, is because it was expected to correct some significant problems with the existing PlayBook OS. The most significant of these problems include the inability to send and receive email without being linked to a BlackBerry phone. The PlayBook has not done very well in sales since its launch in April of 2011. According to RIM, the company has only shipped about 700 thousand PlayBook devices since they hit the market, which happens to be about as many iPad tablets Apple ships each week.
Another surprising announcement was made in BlackBerry's blog post. The vice president of the company wrote that the new OS, when it is released, will not include one of the company's most popular features; BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). Not including BlackBerry's "crown jewel", in their new OS doesn't make any sense to many analysts. BBM is incredibly popular, specifically with the younger generation of users. The service allows BlackBerry users to instant message one another within the network, without having to pay for text messaging through a separate carrier. An analyst at Forrester Research suspects that some of these strange changes and delays may be due to the company's attempt to allow a single user to have a phone and tablet under one account, which the company's complex security network may be making more difficult than they originally anticipated.
The PlayBook tablet and the next generation of BlackBerry phones share the same operating system, developed by QNX which was acquired by RIM in 2010. Some analysts fear that this delay may also signal a delay in the release of the next generation of BlackBerry smart phones. RIM previously stated that consumers can expect the new BlackBerry phones, called BBX phones, early next year. No specific launch date was announced, but Matthew Thornton, an analysts at Boston's Avian Securities wouldn't be surprised if we don't see them until later in 2012.