Who could have called that?
The BlackBerry PlayBook is an intriguing device with a lot of great features and few shocking flaws. Its high-end hardware and edge-to-edge gesture-based UI turned a number of nerdy heads, and even the most sceptical reviewers admit it has promise. While most of us advised holding off on buying until RIM fixes several problems, consumers don't appear to have taken heed.
A month after launch the BlackBerry tablet has moved some 250,000 people to make a purchase. If this information is accurate, the PlayBook sold twice as fast as the Xoom. Which is a pretty substantial victory for RIM. Things have been grim for the company lately (phone shipments are still expected to sag 9% this quarter) and I'm sure any good news is welcomed by the embattled giant.
The PlayBook was a risky gamble for RIM. Not only was it a touchscreen device from a company that had never before shipped a decent touchscreen product, but RIM chose the 7" form-factor. The Canadian phone-maker didn't hesitate to go off the beaten path on this one. The acquisition of QNX and (UI designers) TAT provided strong roots for what is now a very impressive mobile OS.
The 'Tablet Wars' are far from over. But RIM has already chiselled a sturdy nest for itself on Apple's backside- something Android partners have been trying to do for a year now.
What this Means for RIM: With any luck, the company will take this as a sign to move BlackBerry into the future. A touchscreen, a QNX operating system, support for windowed multitasking- these are all things we love about the PlayBook that we'd really love to see in a BlackBerry smartphone. Perhaps RIM will take the idea seriously, now that they actually have a hot product again.
This news makes it more likely that we'll see a 10" PlayBook launch at some point this Fall/Winter. But before that happens, RIM needs to clean house and fix everything that isn't quite right on the PlayBook today. Like the fact that logging into your email via the browser takes about 400 attempts.