Research-in-Motion’s latest consumer electronics release, the BlackBerry Playbook LTE, is unlikely to reverse the current tide of negativity that comes with any news from the Canadian manufacturer. The original RIM Playbook, released in 2011, was met with much fanfare and just as much negative press -- as it was beset by all sorts of performance issues and widespread disappointment that basic applications, like email, were not standard. From a hardware perspective, the BlackBerry Playbook was technologically comparable to its competition at the time, like the Motorola XOOM, the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and the Apple iPad 2.
Click on the image below to take a look inside the BlackBerry Playbook LTE.
The Playbook LTE was reduced to a pile of parts by the time we were finished with it. But once it was torn down, it became apparent that RIM chose to stick with many of the semiconductor partners it chose to design with in the first Playbook. Maintaining some key socket wins in the new Playbook was Texas Instruments. The Playbook LTE features TI's OMAP 4460, a slight upgrade on the OMAP 4430 found within the original Playbook. The key differences between the two processors are that the OMAP 4460 has an increased clock speed of 1.5GHz, versus 1.0GHz for the 4430, and better 3D video performance. Like its predecessor, the OMAP 4460 is a dual-core processor built on ARM Cortex-A9 cores manufactured at the 45nm node. This selection was somewhat disappointing as there was some hope that RIM would chose a processor from the quad-core OMAP 5 platform, making it more in line with recent tablet offerings like the ASUS Transformer Prime, the Apple iPad 3 (at the graphics level), and the recent Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1.
— Allan Yogasingam is a technical market manager at UBM TechInsights.
From your analysis, looks like RIM is sticking with the same old, same old, here, which is pretty unfathomable given that their future is hanging on a thread. They really need some blockbuster products to turn the tide back in their favor. This apparently isn't going to do it; I'm wondering if the long-awaited Blackberry 10 is going to be enough to break out of the box.
I saw a pre-release Playbook at a SAP conference. It was nice. I like the smaller format tablets. They are more portable and that is what the tablet is all about.
Frankly, I think that RIM is DOA. Their main innovation was the provision of e-mail through the cellular network. Their devices were nice (I have a 8310 Curve), but they are not as sophiscated as most of the smart phones available today. Their only claim to fame to fame is really security. I had an early smart phone (a carrier brand) where I could do e-mail. With the BYOB trend in the industry, many of the attributes that RIM brought to the table are no longer unique or considered important. As the reviewer says, they should have gone quad core. I get the impression that they do not understand the situation they are in.
That's the problem, all right. RIM is like a dinosaur watching a bunch of newly-emerging mammals scurrying around at his feet, way too quick to catch and eat. So the dinosaur decides instead to ignore them. Meanwhile, those little mammals are growing bigger and eating his lunch. It really does seem as though they don't understand what's going on. I would say the company's only value now is intellectual-property protection in the developing wireless patent wars. I see an acquisition coming. Maybe that's what they're banking on, too. They certainly don't seem to be all that interested in making new and exciting smartphones.
I think RIM probably has another chance to get it right. They finally resolved their co-CEO situation, which could put the company on a new path. Even though Apple and the Android phones have stepped a generation ahead of RIM, the company still has significant technology on hand and they haven't lost their enterprise base. The BlackBerry phone is pretty clunky, but this company may still have a surprise or two in its future.
Well put, William. The edge RIM still has is its hold on the enterprise market. Purchase managers seem to be quite loyal. Even while employees are asking for iPhones and Androids, the purchase managers are still buying BlackBerrys.
I think that scenario is actually changing really fast, Rob. Users are pushing for use of their device of choice on the job and don't even care if they are issued a corporate Android or iPhone. Really what they'd prefer is having one device and since a growing part of the population already has a personal smart phone, the trend around BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is accelerating in spades. As a result, more companies are pulling the plug on purchasing phones (can you say bye, bye Blackberry) and instituting BYOD policies, which include stipends and reimbursement plans as opposed to the traditional corporate-issued device.
You've nailed it, Beth. The emerging BYOD trend is similar to owning a favorite pair of shoes -- they are definitely required on the job, but are very personal in nature, one-size definitely does not fit all, some folks have special needs, and we all like to display our personal style. Once a smart phone gets skinned with personal preferences and activated with dozens of personal passwords, contacts, and media, it really doesn't make sense to use an industrial-brick corporate device. I'm afraid RIM is learning this a bit too late. I'm worried that it is even too late for Microsoft...
That's it Beth. The "smart phone?" has become an expression of ones personality. I use and question the name "phone", "tablet", or "pod" because everything is merging into a mid-sized "do box" that you can customize to be "you" in every way your want it to be.
That explains a lot, Beth. I know purchasing managers are not quick to switch from BlackBerry to iPhones or Android phones (which is the only good news RIM has received in recent years). Yet the Blackberry is a generation behind the iPhone and Android. So people using their own iPhones and Androids for work makes perfect sense.
@Rob: Purchasing managers might not want to switch because they have good, negotiated telco/phone contracts, but CIOs and potentially CFOs are seeing that the IT group just can't afford to provide the range of choice and staff up to support all the various flavors. With that in mind, they're going back to the drawing board and architecting new mobility and telco reimbursement policies that give users the option of bringing in their preferred device and getting reimbursed, much like an expense report, in some cases, or like a monthly stipend (think of it as a small car payment). Most companies have not totally pulled the plug on the corporate-issued option, but my guess is that's not too far off in the future.
About the only ray of sunshine for RIM at present is the issue of security. Many (read "most") IT departments don't want the headache of having to manage security for a multitude of different devices on a multitude of different platforms. If you've ever had to deal with IT (which is probably the majority of us) you know they do NOT accept new responsibilities without a squawk (and additional funding). And I can't exactly say I blame them, because you never know what bizarre junk a user has installed on their own personal smartphone that is being used for work. That potential liability cannot be underestimated.
On the subject of smartphones in general, my elder son set me straight about a year ago with the following comment (imagine a patronizing, slightly impatient tone of voice as you read this) "Dad, a smartphone these days is just a handheld computer that has a phone-call-making app installed." Basically, that is exactly correct; to support that usage they include a speaker and microphone that also are used to record sounds and play music. The only real cell phones on the market these days are those old-fashioned "feature phones" used mainly by the elderly (and my wife). They've got a dial pad, and maybe even a camera, and that's it.
@Chuck_IAG: Your son is exactly right. The phones are really portable computers and that's why people in business want to use one device for both their personal stuff and as an aid in getting their work done. And you are right again that IT is struggling with how to manage and support all these myriad devices, most of which they no longer have control over in terms of what goes on them. Interesting times, to say the least, but back to the subject of RIM, not good news for them. Your point about their edge with security is certainly true, but other players are definitely catching up.
William, now most people prefer tablets with either latest Android or Apple OS. Moreover Google and MS is also coming to market with most updated features. In such scenario, any scope for RIM or Nokia products.
Beth, the first BlackBerry I used back in 2009 was a mini boat anchor. My personal Motorola cellphone was slim and lightweight compared to the clunky BlackBerry issued by the company. Although RIM has a lot of work ahead of them to compete in the Apple iOS, Android, and Windows 7 smartphone/tablet market, I was quite impressed with the Qualcomm based communication pcb and dual mini speakers shown in the teardown slides.
It's interesting that RIM went with a dual-core processor instead of a quad core, especially given the fact that they were trying (or should have been trying) for a dramatic new product offering. I wonder why. Cost?
Charles, am not getting why still play book prefers for Dual core, when MS and Google is offering their products with Quad core processor. Whether Dual core processor have any advantage when compare with Quad core processors
The company says it anticipates high-definition video for home security and other uses will be the next mature technology integrated into the IoT domain, hence the introduction of its MatrixCam devkit.
Siemens and Georgia Institute of Technology are partnering to address limitations in the current additive manufacturing design-to-production chain in an applied research project as part of the federally backed America Makes program.
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