John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Research in Demotion: Critical PlayBook Reviews Weigh on RIM

The early reviews of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook published today ahead of the tablet’s launch next week and, sadly for RIM, they were largely unflattering.

Consensus among reviewers seems to be that the PlayBook, though promising, feels unfinished. As Walt Mossberg explained in his review last night, “I got the strong impression RIM is scrambling to get the product to market, and that it will be adding other features already offered on competing devices for months, through software patches.”

And while praising it as a solid device with a promising operating system, Joshua Topolsky concluded: “I can’t think of a single reason to recommend this tablet over the iPad 2, or for that matter…the Xoom. And that’s what it really boils down to here; what is the compelling feature that will make buyers choose the PlayBook over something else? I don’t have that answer, but that’s not what’s troubling me–what troubles me is that I don’t think RIM has the answer either…and they should by now.”

That sentiment–that PlayBook is halfbaked in its current form–was echoed by a number of other reviewers, and it played hell with RIM’s stock. The company’s share price slipped nearly four percent Thursday afternoon and will likely slip further tomorrow if the analyst reports I’m seeing today are any indication. This one, from Sterne Agee, is a good example.

Frankly, we are not too surprised with the response as we have been hearing about the same concerns from both the technology and investment communities including the lack of native email where it is using tethering to a BlackBerry smart phone to deliver basic functionality like email, contacts, and calendar. The company is citing security as the reason but we suspect it may be due to technical issues (it is saying it is delivering these features in the summer). However, this lack of functionality and a 3G cellular connection will likely limit the ability to use the PlayBook as a standalone device and thus its appeal may be limited. The other weakness cited is its relatively weaker battery life of 5-6 hours under normal use vs. the company’s claim of 8-10 hours.