Responding to Constructive Criticism

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2011-04-16 Print this article Print


Whether there's an extra charge to tether the PlayBook is a question that needs to be addressed by the carriers. Right now you can only use the PlayBook on WiFi or tethered to the BlackBerry smartphone. Eventually, the PlayBook is supposed to get its own 3G / 4G capability and its own email, contacts, etc.  

This arrangement isn't as cumbersome as it might seem. After all, it's probably not often that an iPad user goes somewhere and doesn't also take along his or her smartphone. But in this case you have no choice, and it has to be a BlackBerry smartphone. 

The end result is that this choice on the part of RIM will likely limit the sales of what appears to be a fairly nice tablet. It's a problem that RIM shares with Motorola with its Xoom tablet. Sales were less than brisk for the Xoom at least in part because many of the promised features, including 4G, were to be delivered later. For buyers, this meant that there wasn't any good reason to rush out and buy the tablet now. 

Ultimately, these criticisms may sting a little, but they're fair. Yes, there are icons on the PlayBook for email services, but they lead to Webmail sites. The kind of integrated email client you see on the BlackBerry smartphone won't be delivered for a while. Balsillie said this is for security reasons, and likely it is-they need to make sure that the email client on the tablet is as secure as the one on the smartphone. 

But like the security questions fielded earlier in the week, there's an appropriate way to respond and an inappropriate way. Lazardis made news for all of the wrong reasons, and rather than explaining to the BBC reporter that his question was astonishingly misinformed and then changing the subject, he made news by walking out. Then Balsillie made news by claiming unfairness rather than by simply moving on to the strong points that the tablet does have. 

And that's sad. The BlackBerry smartphone is still the backbone of business smartphones, the one that everyone trusts because they know it's secure. But letting the stress of a new product launch cause problems in this way just hurts RIM and its products. True, the PlayBook isn't everything is should be and, yes, it probably should have been a more mature product when launched, but that's not relevant any longer. The PlayBook is here, it is what it is, and RIM needs to move forward on its strengths rather than stressing out about the weaknesses that will eventually be fixed. That assumes, of course, that they will be fixed.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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