BlackBerry PlayBook

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BlackBerry PlayBook
BlackBerry PlayBook 2.jpg
DeveloperBlackBerry Ltd
ManufacturerQuanta Computer
contract manufacturer
TypeMini-tablet computer, media player
Release dateApril 19, 2011
Operating systemBlackBerry Tablet OS (QNX)
CPU1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 (Cortex-A9 dual-core)
Memory1 GB RAM
Storage16, 32, 64 GB Flash
Display7 in (180 mm) LCD display
1024×600 px (WSVGA)
16:9 aspect ratio
(1080p HDMI output)
GraphicsPowerVR SGX540
SoundStereo microphones, loudspeakers
InputCapacitive 4-point multi-touch touchscreen
3-axis accelerometer-gyroscope
Camera1080p HD video: 5 MP rear, 3 MP front
ConnectivityWi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
Bluetooth 3.1
Power20 Wh (5.4 Ah, 3.7 V)
Online services7digital, BlackBerry App World, Rovi Video Store
Dimensions194 mm (7.6 in) H
130 mm (5.1 in) W
9.7 mm (0.38 in) D
Weight425 grams (0.937 lb)
BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE
ManufacturerQuanta Computer
(on contract)
TypeTablet, media player
Release dateAugust 9, 2012
Operating systemBlackBerry Tablet OS (QNX)
CPU1.5 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4460 (Cortex-A9 dual-core)
Memory1 GB RAM
Storage32 GB Flash
Display7 in (180 mm) LCD display
1024×600 px (WSVGA)
16:9 aspect ratio
(1080p HDMI output)
GraphicsPowerVR SGX540
SoundStereo microphones, loudspeakers
InputCapacitive 4-point multi-touch touchscreen
3-axis accelerometer-gyroscope
ConnectivityWi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)
4G LTE (700, 1700 MHz)
UMTS/HSPA+ (800, 900, 1700, 1900, 2100 MHz)
Bluetooth 3.1
(NFC installed but deactivated)
Power17.76 Wh (4.8 Ah, 3.7 V)
Online services7digital, BlackBerry App World, Rovi Video Store
Dimensions194 mm (7.6 in) H
130 mm (5.1 in) W
9.7 mm (0.38 in) D
Weight405 grams (0.893 lb)

The BlackBerry PlayBook is a mini tablet computer developed by BlackBerry and made by Quanta Computer, an original design manufacturer (ODM)[1][2] It was first released for sale on April 19, 2011, in Canada and the United States.

The PlayBook is the first device to run BlackBerry Tablet OS, based on QNX Neutrino, and runs apps developed using Adobe AIR.[3] It was later announced that the BlackBerry Tablet OS would be merged with the existing BlackBerry OS to produce a new operating system, BlackBerry 10, that would be used universally across BlackBerry's product line. A second major revision to the BlackBerry PlayBook OS was released in February 2012.[4] The PlayBook also supports Android OS applications, allowing them to be sold and installed through the BlackBerry App World store.[5]

Early reviews were mixed saying that although the hardware was good, several features were missing. Shipments totaled approximately 500,000 units during the first quarter of sales and 200,000 in the following quarter.[6] Many of the 700,000 units shipped to retailers allegedly remained on the shelves for months, prompting BlackBerry to introduce dramatic price reductions in November 2011 to increase sales.[7] Sales rebounded following the price cuts,[8] with BlackBerry shipping approximately 2.5 million BlackBerry PlayBooks by June 1, 2013.

Announcement[edit | edit source]

Rumors about the forthcoming computer, nicknamed the 'BlackPad' in the press because of its expected similarity to Apple's competing iPad, had circulated for several months before the announcement.[9][10] Research In Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis and Adobe Systems CTO Kevin Lynch staged the first public demonstration of the PlayBook on October 25, 2010,[11] onstage at the opening-day keynote of the Adobe MAX 2010 conference.

Among the features demonstrated was its tight integration with and support for Adobe AIR applications and full Flash support. According to Lazaridis, "We're not trying to dumb down the internet for a mobile device. What we've done is bring up mobile devices to the level of desktop computers." Lazaridis then announced at the end of his presentation that developers who get Adobe AIR applications approved on BlackBerry App World would be eligible for free BlackBerry PlayBook tablets.[12] Since then, the free PlayBook offer has been extended to include WebWorks applications.

Features[edit | edit source]

The BlackBerry PlayBook supports up to 1080p video playback. PlayBook Features a 3 MP front-facing camera for video chatting over Wi-Fi and a rear-facing 5 MP camera, both of which can record 1080p video.[13] The PlayBook has a 1024×600 WSVGA with an aspect ratio of 16:9 making this device perfectly acceptable for viewing HD video content or other media, 7-inch display and 3D graphics acceleration. It features a variety of sensors, including an InvenSense 6-axis gyroscope, magnetometer, and accelerometer. The PlayBook uses the dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP4430 processor. While the newer and faster PlayBook included the dual-core Texas Instruments OMAP4460 processor.[14] The BlackBerry PlayBook supports high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV), and audio (MP3, AAC 5.1, WMA 5.1 audio playback) formats. It also has a micro-HDMI port for HDMI video output. The BlackBerry PlayBook receives a score of 428 in "The HTML5 Test" for its browser placing 4th for tablets and beating, Chrome Beta, Chrome 18, iOS 7 (Safari), iOS 6.0 (Safari), Opera Mobile 12.10, Silk 2.2 (Amazon Kindle Fire), Internet Explorer 11, and Android 4.0 browsers with BlackBerry Tablet OS 2.1. With its Adobe Flash Version support, Flash content is usable.

Reviews[edit | edit source]

BlackBerry PlayBook was released in Canada and USA on April 19, 2011; the UK[15] and Netherlands on June 16, 2011;[16] and the United Arab Emirates on June 25, 2011.[17] Early reviews for the product were mixed, praising the PlayBook's fluid UI, Adobe Flash supported webkit-based browser,[18] Flash Video support, fast JavaScript and HTML 5.0 Web page rendering, HDMI output, and multitasking capabilities.

PlayBook was criticized initially requiring a BlackBerry for its native email and calendar applications, although third party email and calendar applications are supported. The platform also has relatively few native third party applications compared to other platforms, though the number available has steadily risen.

Following the mixed reviews, BlackBerry's Playbook began to gain traction and receive better reviews, as the temporary issues are being solved. Walt Mossberg, columnist for The Wall Street Journal, wrote, "I got the strong impression RIM is scrambling to get the product to market."[19] RIM's then co-CEO Jim Balsillie countered critics by noting that there were more than 60 million BlackBerry smartphones in use with the ability to pair with a PlayBook.[20]

In April 2013, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins stated in an interview that "in five years I don’t think there’ll be a reason to have a tablet anymore",[21] a position that analysts attributed to BlackBerry's "spectacular failure" in the tablet market with the PlayBook.[22]

Applications[edit | edit source]

At the time of launch, between 2,000 and 3,000 apps were available from the BlackBerry App World. As of May 1, 2012, there are over 24,700 PlayBook applications available in BlackBerry App World.[23]

BlackBerry announced on March 24, 2011, that it would expand its application ecosystem for the PlayBook to include BlackBerry Java and Android-based applications. In a press release, BlackBerry stated that developers would be able to simply repackage, code sign, and submit their Android apps into BlackBerry App World, however for the first update, only Android 2.3 applications will be able to run on the PlayBook.[24] These applications became available in the BlackBerry Tablet OS 2.0, released on February 21, 2012. However, Java applications will not be available until a future update.[25] Popular Android applications that have not been ported onto BlackBerry world such as Pinterest and Whatsapp can be installed by users through the sideloading process. However, after the 2.1 OS update, RIM denied this sideloading process.[26]

Updates to Operating System[edit | edit source]

At first, a decision by BlackBerry to ship the PlayBook without native applications for e-mail and calendar became a source of criticism and derision by reviewers and users. The only way to access email was through the web browser, BlackBerry Bridge, or third-party applications from App World, which BlackBerry chose for security reasons. However, BlackBerry has made these native applications available in an update to the system software.[27]

The Playbook OS 2.0 was released on February 21, 2012.[28] The software update added integrated native email, calendar, and contact apps. It also included visual changes to the operating system, support for a variety of Android applications and also brought three new applications built into the OS: Press Reader, a newspaper reader; News, an RSS reader; and Print To Go, which can be used to send documents from a PC to the PlayBook. BBM (aka BlackBerry Messenger) support was not included with the 2.0 update, although BlackBerry intends to support BBM in a future update. BBM is still supported through the BlackBerry Bridge software, allowing users to continue to have access to it while bridged to their BlackBerry smartphone.

On October 3, 2012, BlackBerry released Playbook OS 2.1.

On January 30, 2013, BlackBerry confirmed that both the Wi-Fi PlayBook and the newer cellular PlayBooks would be receiving an update to the new BlackBerry 10 operating system in 2013.[29]

On June 28, 2013, the company announced that plans to bring BlackBerry 10 to the PlayBook were canceled [30] sparking fears of the device's potential scrapping. According to BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, multiple teams had spent "a great deal of time and energy" investigating ways to bring the OS to the device. Ultimately, Heins intervened to cancel the project citing his dissatisfaction with the "level of performance and user experience". While no immediate decisions over the device's future are certain, Heins did promise BlackBerry would "support PlayBook on the existing software platforms and configurations.”[31]

Encryption[edit | edit source]

Because BlackBerry Bridge accesses mail, calendar, and contacts directly from a tethered BlackBerry phone, the PlayBook meets the same encryption standards as the BlackBerry phone. Some cryptographic components of the BlackBerry OS (kernels, cryptography-related OS and Java modules) are certified under FIPS 140-2,[32] which makes the tablet eligible for use by U.S. federal government agencies.

The BlackBerry PlayBook OS2.1 update in September 2012 enabled full-disk encryption on the device, using the same algorithm as previously used that had been limited to the Enterprise kernel handling the tethered content from a paired BlackBerry phone.

BlackBerry PlayBook models[edit | edit source]

The first PlayBook was a 7 in (180 mm) tablet with Wi-Fi connectivity and a dual core, 1 GHz Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 processor. Customers could purchase the WiFi PlayBook in 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB storage configurations.

In June 2012, the 16 GB model was discontinued, however the 32 and 64 GB Wi-Fi versions remained for sale.[33]

In August 2012, the PlayBook 4G LTE was released in Canada. It featured a dual-core 1.5 GHZ processor, 4G LTE and UMTS/HSPA+ cellular connectivity, and an NFC chip. Unlike the earlier PlayBook model, the PlayBook 4G LTE was only sold through carrier channels.[34] In November 2012, another variant of the 1.5 GHZ PlayBook, the PlayBook 3G+, was released in the UK.[35] Unlike the Wi-Fi models, the 4G LTE and 3G+ models are not available in 16 GB or 64 GB versions.

Following the launch of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins confirmed that the company was exploring the opportunities for future tablet releases but had not announced further plans in the tablet market[36] but that the PlayBook would not be converted to the new BlackBerry 10 OS, having decided "to stop these efforts and focus on [its] core hardware portfolio" of mobile phones, thereby bringing the PlayBook to its end-of-life.[37]

In March 2015, BlackBerry announced the BlackBerry Secutablet, a tablet that uses Samsung Knox with the hardware from the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5.[38]

Reception and sales[edit | edit source]

Various sources estimated the sales figure on launch day alone at approximately 50,000, exceeding analyst's expectations.[39] BlackBerry announced in its quarterly earnings that half a million PlayBook tablets were shipped in the first quarter.[40] However, after lukewarm market reception, there were reports that the company allegedly revised its second-quarter estimates from 2.4 million down to 800,000 – 900,000 units.[41]

Following several months of poor sales, BlackBerry started discounting the price of Playbook from its original retail price to improve the product's run rate at retail. In December 2011, BlackBerry took a $485 million write-down to account for offering price discounts.[42] Sales improved in subsequent quarters as a result.

Financial Quarter Date Shipments
Q1 2012 May 28, 2011 500,000[43]
Q2 2012 August 27, 2011 200,000[44]
Q3 2012 November 26, 2011 150,000[45]
Q4 2012 March 3, 2012 500,000[46]
Q1 2013 June 2, 2012 260,000 [47]
Q2 2013 September 1, 2012 130,000[48]
Q3 2013 December 1, 2012 255,000[49]
Q4 2013 March 2, 2013 370,000[50]
Q1 2014 June 1, 2013 100,000[51]
Lifetime Shipments As of June 1, 2013 2,465,000

According to Strategy Analytics figures in the 2011 second quarter, the PlayBook's market share in the middle of 2011 was 3.3%, compared to iOS (iPads) by Apple with 61.3%, Android by Google with 30.1%, and various Windows by Microsoft with 4.6%.[52]

However, the PlayBook remained relatively popular tablet in Canada during earlier years, accounting for nearly 20% of the tablet market in Research In Motion's home country in a report released on July 2012.[53] Strong discounting of the older Wi-Fi PlayBooks resulted in strong sales in the UK during Christmas 2012.[54][55]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "The Amazon tablet will look like a PlayBook - because it basically is.". Engadget. Retrieved 2014-06-19. 
  2. BlackBerry maker unveils PlayBook tablet, September 27, 2010, Reuters
  3. "RIM Unveils The BlackBerry PlayBook" (Press release). Research In Motion. September 27, 2010. 
  4. "An Update on BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0". Retrieved December 11, 2011. 
  5. Chris Davies, "RIM PlayBook Android app limits detailed disappointingly", SlashGear, September 28, 2011
  6. Nancy Gohring. "RIM's PlayBook Shipments Drop in Half". Retrieved October 17, 2011. 
  7. "RIM PlayBook Price Slashed – MarketWatch Video". Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  8. "PlayBook buyers line up as prices slashed for RIM’s tablet computer". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  9. Report: RIM's Blackpad set to take on iPad, CNET, July 30, 2010
  10. RIM Readies Its Answer to iPad, The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2010
  11. BlackBerry Playbook vs. iPad: Head to Head comparison, Cantech letter, November 16, 2010.
  12. "Adobe Max 2010 Opening Keynote". Adobe. 
  13. PlayBook Features., June 28, 2011.
  14. Skipworth, Hunter (March 23, 2011). "BlackBerry confirms PlayBook specs and launch date". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  15. Solomon, Kate (May 17, 2011). "BlackBerry PlayBook UK release date and prices revealed". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  16. "BlackBerry Playbook vanaf 16 juni verkrijgbaar". May 26, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  17. Baldwin, Derek (May 31, 2011). "BlackBerry aficionados await PlayBook's launch in UAE stores". gulfnews. Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  18. Austen, Ian (April 11, 2011). "R.I.M.’s PlayBook Tablet Is a Whiz at Flash". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  19. Yarow, Jay (April 14, 2011). "The Reviews of the BlackBerry PlayBook Are Unbelievably Bad". Business Insider. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  20. Miller, Hugo (April 15, 2011). "RIM Chiefs Defend PlayBook Against Critics as Debut Approaches". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-04-15. 
  21. "BlackBerry CEO Questions Future of Tablets". Bloomberg. Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  22. "BlackBerry CEO Says Tablets Will Be Irrelevant in 5 Years". Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  23. "99,500 BlackBerry Apps Now in App World – 25% PlayBook Apps". 
  24. RIM Expands Application Ecosystem for BlackBerry PlayBook, Official press release, March 24, 2011
  25. "Developer Roadmap: BlackBerry BBX and the BlackBerry Java SDK". Inside BlackBerry Developer's Blog. October 20, 2011. 
  27. Empire, BlackBerry. "BlackBerry PlayBook Unboxing". BlackBerry Empire. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  28. "An Update on BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0". Inside BlackBerry – The Official BlackBerry Blog. October 25, 2011. 
  29. "BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will get BlackBerry 10 update". Retrieved January 30, 2013. 
  30. "BlackBerry CEO axes planned BB10 for PlayBook tablet". Retrieved June 28, 2013. 
  31. Summers, Nick. "BlackBerry CEO killed off BlackBerry 10 plans for PlayBook because he wasn’t satisfied with it". CrackBerry. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  32. "FIPS 140-1 Vendor List". 
  33. "RIM axes 16GB PlayBook". Retrieved June 7, 2012. 
  34. "The 32GB 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook Is Now Available From Canadian Carriers For $550". Retrieved August 9, 2012. 
  35. "BlackBerry PlayBook 3G+ 32GB Now Available in the UK". Retrieved November 5, 2012. 
  36. "BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins: ‘I’ve asked my teams to build another tablet’". Retrieved February 7, 2013. 
  37. "Blackberry PlayBook Is as Good as Dead". Retrieved October 16, 2016. 
  38. BlackBerry's first tablet in years is a secure Galaxy Tab S. March 14, 2015
  39. O'Brien, Kate (April 20, 2011). "First day BlackBerry PlayBook sales estimated to be 50,000". Retrieved 2011-06-02. 
  40. RIM (June 16, 2011). "Research In Motion Reports First quarter Fiscal 2012 Results and Revises Full Year Guidance" (pdf). Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  41. Joseph Tsai. "RIM lowers internal 2Q11 sales target for PlayBook.". Retrieved 2011-11-24. 
  42. Marlow, Iain (December 2, 2011). "RIM finds new ways to disappoint investors". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). Retrieved 2011-12-06. 
  43. RIM (June 16, 2011). "Research In Motion Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results and Revises Full Year Guidance". 
  44. RIM (September 15, 2011). "Research In Motion Reports Second Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results" (pdf). 
  45. RIM (December 15, 2011). "Research In Motion Reports Third Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results". 
  46. RIM (March 29, 2012). "Research In Motion Reports Fourth Quarter Fiscal 2012 Results". 
  47. RIM (June 28, 2012). "Research In Motion Reports First Quarter Fiscal 2013 Results". 
  48. RIM (September 27, 2012). "Research In Motion Reports Second Quarter Fiscal 2013 Results". 
  49. RIM (December 20, 2012). "Research In Motion Reports Third Quarter Fiscal 2013 Results". 
  50. RIM (March 28, 2013). "BlackBerry Reports Fourth Quarter and Year-end Fiscal 2013 Results" (pdf). 
  51. BlackBerry (formerly RIM) (June 28, 2013). "BlackBerry Reports FirstQuarter Fiscal 2013 Results" (pdf). 
  52. Baker, Liana B. (August 22, 2011). "With HP tablet dead, who can challenge Apple?". The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 
  53. "Smaller, cheaper tablets take bite out of Apple’s market share'". Solutions Research Group Consultants Inc.( July 15, 2012. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  54. Kuittinen, Tero (January 29, 2013). "UK shocker: BlackBerry PlayBook is outselling the new iPad". Retrieved September 4, 2013. 
  55. "Tablet sales receive boost". February 12, 2013. Retrieved September 4, 2013. 

External links[edit | edit source]