RIM PlayBook Software Update Coming in February 2012

RIM's PlayBook software will update with a native email app and other features come February 2012, according to the company.

Research In Motion's long-awaited software update to the PlayBook isn't due to arrive until February 2012, according to the company.

"We expect to deliver the new BlackBerry PlayBook OS to customers in February 2012," David Smith, RIM's senior vice president of BlackBerry PlayBook, wrote in a post published on RIM's official BlackBerry blog Oct. 25, "and we'll continue to keep you updated as we progress to the launch."

He also described the decision to wait on the PlayBook OS 2.0 launch as a "difficult" one, driven by a need to be "confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users."

The update will add integrated email, a "new video store," calendar and contact apps, and better tethering between tablet and a user's BlackBerry. On the enterprise side of things, RIM is apparently tweaking the PlayBook's manageability options and enterprise application deployment. The updated software will also include a separate area within BlackBerry App World for enterprise applications.

However, a BlackBerry Messenger application native to the PlayBook is apparently not forthcoming in the near future. "We have decided to defer the inclusion of the BBM application to a subsequent BlackBerry PlayBook OS release," Smith wrote. "We are committed to developing a seamless BBM solution that fully delivers on the powerful, push based messaging capabilities recognized today by BlackBerry users around the world."

Will the PlayBook software update coincide with RIM's planned release of BBX, the QNX-based operating system designed to replace the long-running BlackBerry OS? So far, RIM has offered precious few details about BBX's user interface or release date.

However, at least according to an Oct. 18 statement released by RIM, BBX will apparently "support applications developed using any of the tools available today for the BlackBerry PlayBook ... including native SDK, Adobe AIR/Flash and WebWorks/HTML5, as well as the BlackBerry Runtime for Android Apps."

RIM hopes an upcoming generation of "superphones" running BBX will help the company regain traction as a viable competitor to Apple iOS and Google Android. Research firm Nielsen estimated RIM's share of the U.S. smartphone market at 18 percent through August, behind both Google Android (43 percent) and Apple iOS (28 percent) but well ahead of Microsoft (8 percent). Microsoft is pouring millions of dollars into making Windows Phone the smartphone space's third major ecosystem, and both Android and iOS have made significant inroads within the business community over the past several quarters.

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