The following is a guest post from Ionut Popa…
The past couple of months were not stellar for RIM; that’s no secret. But the luck might change slightly at the beginning of 2012, as the Blackberry OS 2.0 software update was just released for the 7 inch Blackberry Playbook tablet.
This was the best event for RIM that could change things for the better in the near future, as the first Blackberry 10 smartphone is rumored to be released at the end of 2012, possibly the beginning of 2013. You might know that RIM changed its CEO recently, but current plans are still the ones drafted by the old team.
So, for the original Blackberry Playbook owners and RIM fans the Blackberry OS 2.0 was the chance for the company to make things right for early adopters. Adding native email, calendar, and contacts, together with the ability to run Android apps (ported and submitted to the App World for approval), have made the 7 inch tablet a little bit more interesting — enough for it to matter and enough to pave the way for the next Playbook, rumored to be released as a hardware update in the months to come.
Current RIM apps situation
Updating an already good tablet like the Playbook might not seem the best solution, but RIM knows specifications still play a major role in consumer’s decision making process, so the rumored specs update for the Playbook, due to be announced in Q1 2012 makes sense. But it won’t be enough to make a difference if RIM doesn’t solve the other problems.
For me RIM’s problem was never the hardware, as last year’s Playbook is a tablet capable of running Full HD content, including Flash clips. But it lacks in what matters most these days: plenty great apps to download and use. Apps availability is the decisive factor when people choose a platform over the other. RIM understood that, but it doesn’t seem they have enough push to get developers to code for its platform.
Making 100.000 apps appearing from thin air is not easy, so even with the PlayBook OS 2.0 update we’re still looking at a barren app store. Since RIM needed to come with a solution, while completed the much needed native email, calendar, and contacts apps, they decided for a software emulator that would enable the tablet to run Android code. That’s probably one of the smartest decisions ever made by RIM in the past two years. A
nd I particularly like the way it was integrated seamlessly into the PlayBook OS 2.0, where you can’t really tell the difference between a native QNX and an Android app. All RIM has to solve now is the number and quality of apps.
Things RIM has solve with the next Playbook tablet
The first step is obvious for RIM: keep developing the software so that Android apps can be easily installed (without porting and submitting from their developers) and make sure these apps run smoothly along with the native apps (right now some of the titles are slower and laggy).
Second: bring more developers no matter what. They’re offering a free Playbook for each developer that submits an app, but for big names that’s not enough, so make sure to offer a better revenue sharing ratio: it’s better to earn a smaller percentage from something than keeping 100% of nothing.
The third step must be done when the new Playbook is here: ask a fair price, like $250 to $300, no more than that. It might seem extreme, or even too low to cover manufacturing costs, but I’m pretty sure people don’t want to hear this story, or care about it, so don’t make the mistake of asking the same price, or more for a products that’s not better than the competition.
I hope RIM knows that keeping the same strategy as the last two years means certain death and will focus all their efforts into solving the biggest problem: app ecosystem, together with working on pricing of their future tablets (maybe significant subsidies from wireless carriers for the 4G enabled models will help). I’m sure consumers and investors won’t give you a third chance, so please RIM – get your act together.
Ionut Popa is the Editor in Chief at GadgetRoad, a niche site dedicated to inform you about the latest gadgets you can get at any given time. You can also read about upcoming products, news, reviews, comparisons and How TOs related to cool gadgets for men.