updated 06:55 pm EDT, Tue October 25, 2011
BlackBerry PlayBook now moved off to February
RIM's Senior VP for the BlackBerry PlayBook, David Smith, quickly confirmed rumors of a delay in PlayBook 2.0. The release, once promised soon after DevCon last week, now won't arrive until February. RIM wanted to make sure it "fully met the expectations" of both developers and users before it shipped, he said.
To help get ready, certain enterprise buyers in the Early Adopter Program would get closed beta releases to help them check how well both promised features like native e-mail worked as well as to check the new corporate app deployment feature and overall security. Tests would start "shortly" and run until the end of 2011.
In a significant loss, however, BlackBerry Messenger wouldn't ship at all with 2.0. It still wanted a "seamless" implementation, but the instant messaging wouldn't arrive until a "subsequent" version past 2.0, Smith said. PlayBook owners would have to use Bridge with a BlackBerry phone to get BBM on the larger screen.
The news is a change to a more candid and deliberate schedule than in the past, when RIM often wouldn't provide more than general timing clues and in many cases denied delays in spite of their own executives' public promises.
Regardless, it magnifies the fallout of RIM's decision to rush the PlayBook to market with the promise of a patch to add in features that other platforms take for granted, such as e-mail. Initially promised by executives as coming within 60 days of the PlayBook's April release, native e-mail, calendars, and contacts were quietly delayed to the summer, then October, and now to 10 months after the PlayBook was first released.
The absence of native BBM is known to be tied to an inherent one device, one PIN code limit in the messaging system. By taking it out of the equation for anytime in the near future, it essentially hands Apple an opportunity with iMessage. The iOS rival to BBM can run on every device a user has and still has core features like encrypted chats and message receipts.