RIM chose CES as the venue to unveil its long-awaited PlayBook OS 2.0 update, along with BlackBerry 7.1 OS.
VEGAS-Research In Motion used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), arguably the
tech world's highest-profile venue, to finally unveil the long-awaited software
update for its PlayBook tablet.
PlayBook OS 2.0, the software update includes features demanded by users when
the 7-inch tablet made its initial debut in April 2011. In addition to
integrated messaging and calendar apps, the PlayBook will also offer a Video
Store with new releases for rent or purchase. There is a palette of tools for
rich-text email composing and editing, as well as updated document-editing
capabilities. A new "reading view" for the Web browser will offer a streamlined
way to read online news articles or Websites with large amounts of text.
plans on making the update available for download in February. The company
itself is betting that a refreshed product line, including the introduction of
so-called "superphones" running the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system,
will prevent its market share from sliding further in the face of aggressive
competition from Apple's iPhone and a growing family of Google Android devices.
BlackBerry 10 arrives sometime in the second half of 2012, RIM is relying on
BlackBerry devices loaded with BlackBerry 7 OS to hold the market-share line.
Also in conjunction with CES here, RIM debuted BlackBerry 7.1 OS, which
includes the ability to share information between two near-field communication
(NFC)-enabled BlackBerry devices by touching them together.
part of its renewed push, RIM is pushing third-party developers to create apps
for its platforms. In a Jan. 10 interview with eWEEK
, Alec Saunders, RIM's vice president of developer relations
and ecosystem development, suggested that those developers working with HTML5
and WebWorks to create apps for the PlayBook will have relatively little
trouble porting those apps to BlackBerry 10, once the latter hits the market.
"You may need to make some tweaks, but your code base is preserved," he said.
apps developed using BlackBerry Java will not port onto BlackBerry 10, limiting
developers working with those tools to BlackBerry 7 or older.
some buzz heading into its release last year, the PlayBook faced an uphill
battle for adoption in a marketplace dominated by Apple's iPad. In December,
RIM announced it would take a $485 million charge against its PlayBook
inventory, or $360 million after applicable taxes.
a Dec. 2 statement, RIM cited "competitive dynamics of the tablet market" and
the delay of the PlayBook OS 2.0 upgrade as the 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 activity."
cuts at stores like Best Buy over the holiday season induced customers to
purchase the PlayBook in greater numbers than usual. The retailer managed to
sell out its stock after it dropped the tablet's price to $199 and $299,
respectively, for the 16GB and 32GB versions.
the wake of that, and with the start of what will surely be a decisive and
competitive year, RIM has been encouraging developers to create apps for the
PlayBook platform, which in turn could help build a robust app ecosystem for
upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices. It remains to be seen, however, if the new
features of PlayBook OS 2.0 will persuade consumers to take the plunge.
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