The wait goes on for BlackBerry's tablet PC

Research In Motion delays arrival of Playbook

Government folk are going to have to wait a bit longer for BlackBerry’s tablet PC to hit the market.

In its third-quarter earnings call Dec. 16, Research In Motion executives said the company doesn't anticipate any revenue from its tablet, dubbed the Playbook, in the fourth quarter. That means that the Playbook launch will likely come in late March or April, months later than technology pundits had expected.

This delay is likely to disappoint the consumer market and will delay RIM’s entrance into the federal tablet market, which has seen signs of growing in the last couple of months. For instance, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) was seen with an Apple iPad on the floor of the House of Representatives recently and Supreme Court Justices Elena Kagan and Antonin Scalia use an Amazon Kindle and an iPad, respectively, to read briefs.

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In an event on mobile security in early December the chief information security officer of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Patrick Howard, said that the agency was in the early stages of testing the Playbook’s security for agency use. It is not hard to imagine other agencies also looking towards RIM’s tablet given the predominance of BlackBerrys in federal life, its ingrained security and, almost out-of-the-box, its adherence to Federal Information Processing Standards.

The Playbook, which was announced at a developer conference in San Francisco in late September, will include a new made-for-tablet operating system based on Unix-like technology that RIM acquired when it bought QNX Software Systems in April. It will function on a dual-core processor and be fully functional with HTML 5, JavaScript, Webworks, Flash and Adobe Air. RIM recently released the software developer kit for the Playbook for developers to make Blackberry App World applications for the tablet ahead of its launch.

There has been a lot of hype around tablets in the last year, but so far only device to get any traction in either the consumer or federal market has been the iPad. A lot of would-be tablet-makers, such as Hewlett Packard or Dell, have not been able to release a viable iPad option as yet. The only other major tablet to reach market so far has been the Android OS-based Samsung Galaxy Tab, which is now available through all major U.S. mobile carriers.


About the Author

Dan Rowinski is a staff reporter covering communications technologies.


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