At the Consumer Electronics Show yesterday, Canada’s Research In Motion allowed attendees to get their hands on the long awaited OS update to the BlackBerry PlayBook to the show, and gave it a street date of Feb 17 2012. The 7” tablet was praised for its high spec hardware on release but criticized for the startling omission of a native email, contacts or calendar app, relying instead on third party solutions, or via a tethered BlackBerry handset.
RIM’s President and Co-CEO Mike Lazardis highlighted a number of productivity features that will appeal its core users. He announced that the 2.0 update would include a native unified inbox, pulling together email and social messaging alerts, as has become familiar with BlackBerry’s dedicated user-base the world over. Additional features for email include ‘tabbed email’ allowing users to write one email whilst referencing another, advanced inbox support for multiple accounts and out-of-office controls, and full rich-text email support for control over fonts and layouts. The calendar app is an expanded version of the mobile app that allows people to see how busy their day is depending on the size of the date, useful for identifying your busy spots at a glance. Native BBM is notable by its omission however, and has been further pushed back.
If this all sounds a bit too much ‘book’ and not enough ‘play’, RIM offered the BlackBerry Video Storefront, a media portal for TV and Film downloads, whilst BlackBerry Remote allows the use of a tethered handset as, you guessed it, a remote, handy for when the PlayBook is plugged into an HDTV via HDMI.
Since its much-hyped launch early in 2011, the PlayBook has never managed to meet the expectation of hype with convincing sales figures. Estimates put the number between 500,000-700,000 units, which makes the PlayBook a minor player next to Android tablets and the iPad. Substantial price cuts did help increase sales last year, although the effect was something more of a trickle than a flow. Its unlikely that this update will turn charming yet diminutive PlayBook into a market leader, but existing users will be pleased to see they’re loyalty rewarded with a fresh OS update and features that, whilst welcome, should really have been there at launch.
See the full press release after the break, and check out Omio’s deals page for great offers on BlackBerry handsets and the PlayBook.