RIM has released its Blackberry PlayBook OS 2.0 software update, which includes built-in email and other much-requested features.
As expected, Research In Motion began pushing out its
long-awaited PlayBook software upgrade Feb. 21.
PlayBook OS 2.0 includes a number of features demanded by
users ever since the 7-inch tablet made its debut in April 2011. These include
built-in email, calendar and contacts; a variety of new apps; and
social-networking integration with calendar and contacts. The BlackBerry Bridge
app, which lets users tether a BlackBerry smartphone to their PlayBookthe
better to view things on the latters larger screenhas likewise been updated: Now, a BlackBerry can act as a wireless keyboard and mouse for the PlayBook.
A new reading view for the Web browser offers a
streamlined way to read online news articles or Websites with large amounts of
text. In a bid to boost the tablets consumer appeal, RIM is also offering a
Video Store with new releases for rent or purchase.
Although the PlayBook gained some early buzz ahead of its
release, it subsequently faced an uphill battle for adoption in a market
segment dominated by Apples iPad. In December, RIM announced it would take a
$485 million charge against its PlayBook inventory, or $360 million after
In a Dec. 2 statement, RIM cited competitive dynamics of
the tablet market and the delay of the PlayBook OS 2.0 upgrade as reasons
behind the write-down. The Company now believes that an increase in
promotional activity is required to drive sell-through to end customers, the
statement added. RIM will record a provision that reflects the current market
environment and allows it to expand upon the aggressive level of promotional
Despite those anemic sales, the PlayBook continues to play a
vital role in RIMs current strategy. The tablets operating system is based on
QNX, which the Canadian device-maker acquired in 2010. Later this year, in a
bid to reassert its position within the smartphone market, RIM will release a
line of so-called superphones running the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating
In a bid to create a sizable apps ecosystem for those
BlackBerry 10 devices, RIM executives have been encouraging third-party
developers to build apps for the PlayBook, with an eye toward porting those
wares to the smartphone platform when it finally hits the market. The shared
QNX code-base, they insist, will make that transition a relatively easy one.
You may need to make some tweaks, but your code base is preserved, Alec
Saunders, RIMs vice president of developer relations and ecosystem
development, told eWEEK in January.
In the meantime, however, RIM can only hope that revamped
software will encourage more consumers to take a look at their tablet.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.