News Analysis: Research In Motion and the BlackBerry Playbook still have a lot going for them if the company successfully addresses legitimate criticism of the new tablet. However, co-CEOS Mike Lazardis and Jim Balsillie have done nothing to help their cause by the way they responded to media questions.
Things have been tough recently at the
Waterloo, Ontario, headquarters of Research In Motion. At the start of the week
of April 10, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazardis got into a tiff with a reporter from the
BBC, and eventually walked out of an interview complaining that the reporter's
questions were unfair. Later that week, RIM's other co-CEO, Jim Balsillie,
complained that negative reviews of the new RIM BlackBerry Playbook were
unfair. I suppose that means that there's plenty of unfairness to go
In defense of Lazardis, the questions
asked by the BBC reporter were at the very least pretty dumb questions. There
the reporter equated the BlackBerry's virtually uncrackable encryption as a "security
issue." I hate to break this to the Beeb, but really good encryption is a very
good thing. It's something that other smartphones don't really have and they
really need. The fact that some governments don't like not being able to spy on
their citizens might be a political problem, but it's not a security
Now, at the end of the week, it seems
that RIM is catching grief for the software-or lack thereof-on the new
PlayBook. Basically, the device doesn't have its own email, contacts, calendar
other basic BlackBerry capabilities. The idea with the PlayBook is that you're
supposed to link the device with your BlackBerry smartphone and the two devices
will do some sort of mind meld, and shazam, the tablet will have mail, contacts
and calendar courtesy of the smartphone.
I suppose that this originally seemed
like a good idea. If enough people like the PlayBook, it'll give them the
incentive they need to also get a BlackBerry. Maybe if the device had been
released a year ago, this might have worked. But that was then and this is now.
In that intervening year, everything changed. In other words, the iPad was launched and with it a set a de facto standards
for how a
tablet should work and what features it should have.
The PlayBook doesn't fit that standard
, and as a
result it's getting some criticism. The big items are the lack of email,
contacts, calendar, etc., that the smartphone has. Co-CEO Balsillie has said
that criticism of that deficiency is unfair. But in fact it's not. If you plan
to use a PlayBook to its full capability, you have to have both the BlackBerry
smartphone and the PlayBook. This in turn means you need to drop a lot of
dollars on the deal.
Sure, you can probably get the smartphone
for a hundred dollars or so and, realistically, it's not going to cost you any
more to use a BlackBerry than it does other smartphones.