As we wait patiently for Week 17 of this year, the week we expect the BlackBerry PlayBook to drop, it’s natural to get impatient. After all, RIM did announce the device in September, which puts a six month divide between our knowledge of the devices and our realization of it. This morning, while browsing All Things D, I came upon an article by Jim Dalrymple of The Loop entitled, “RIM needs to shut up and ship.” Wonderful, I thought. Still, it has been a little frustrating reading so much about the PlayBook and still not having one in hand, so I gave it a read. My mistake. The article contains factual errors — the 4G PlayBook is the LTE, HSPA+, and WiMax versions, so there are only two generations — but that’s not what gets me. What gets me is the idea that companies, regardless of market position, should announce and ship in quick succession. It speaks to nothing but selfish instant gratification. Sure, maybe you want the device now, but RIM clearly has a reason for announcing it so far ahead of its release. Furthermore, there don’t appear to be any serious delays, so the PlayBook is, by all measures, coming on time, as advertised. That doesn’t make for compelling copy at The Loop, apparently. Thankfully, it does at Zatz Not Funny. Earlier today the blog’s namesake wrote an article titled Why Do Companies Pre-Announce Products?. So instead of spewing vitriol that comes off the same way as a two-year-old who wants that toy on the shelf, Dave Zatz takes us through the idea of why a company would announce a product and then not ship for weeks or even months. Ready for this?
1) HP, RIMM, MMI are publicly traded companies. They’re communicating to their investors that they intend to be players in this new tablet arena.
In fairness to Dalrymple, he does mention this. But then he writes it off for no reason and continues his childish rant. It’s a shame, because that’s the entire point. RIM has been taking its lumps lately, from both the iPhone and Android. It had one successful device in 2010, the Torch, and it needed something else to fend off the growing perception that the company is sliding towards irrelevance. Hence, the PlayBook and its early announcement.
2) As Apple has shown, rich third party software offerings are critical to success in the mobile space. By pre-announcing, HP, RIM, and Moto hope to excite potential partner developers and provide them time to prepare apps that line up with the ultimate product launch.
One of the biggest concerns about the PlayBook is the lack of apps it will have upon launch. Now imagine if RIM, still intending that same Week 17 release, announced the PlayBook at Mobile World Congress this week. It would have had to work behind the scenes with developers, and things would have gotten leaked, and it wouldn’t have been as effective. By announcing early and demonstrating the product at every possible venue, RIM might have made it that much more attractive for developers. It might not have, of course, but it was worth the effort.
3) Lastly, these companies are also speaking to us, the potential customers: “Save your pennies.” Very few will buy multiple tablet products this year, so they hope to encourage us to hold out until release.
That’s exactly what RIM is trying to do. It is touting a tablet that tops not only all tablets currently on the market, but all tablets slated to drop in the near future. Save your pennies, indeed. Angst towards RIM is nothing new. We’ve seen many analysts and writers alike trash the PlayBook for various reasons. Yet few of them concentrate on what the PlayBook can do. Instead they look at secondary issues that, in some instances, aren’t really issues when compared to the market (rather than comparing to RIM itself). The PlayBook will do just fine. Yes, I’d rather have it in my hands right now, but that was never in the plans. A little patience can go a long way.