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BlackBerry World 2011: The Playbook for the future

by Nitesh Patel | 5月 06, 2011

I recently returned from BlackBerry World where Research in Motion laid out its plans for the future of the BlackBerry and Playbook platforms. The packed event saw a number of important announcements but also indicated four key trends which RIM watchers and users should be aware of.

Recognition of deficiencies and willingness to address them

The Playbook has a lot going for it. It is fast. It has full Flash support. It comes with the ability to view/edit Office documents. But the launch of the Playbook was at times undermined by a few missing elements such as native e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger and key apps such as Facebook and Twitter.  Instead of shying away from criticism RIM has now addressed these challenges. Native e-mail is coming. Facebook has arrived. And with so many developers now sporting Playbooks (RIM gave one to each conference attendee) it is certain that an ever growing number of apps will arrive including the seemingly ubiquitous avian adventure, Angry Birds.

Continued differentiation

BlackBerry is different. Users buy more expensive apps than on other platforms, they desire social networking offerings as much as gaming, and they demand productivity (and ever more – entertainment). Hence the reason adding a native Facebook app was an important first step to making the Playbook more appealing. In addition, recognizing an area it could better serve this unique user base, RIM partnered with Microsoft to offer unified on-device, on-line, and location based search. This feature will help to further differentiate the BlackBerry experience and further embed the concept of super apps as tightly integrated offerings. Finally, the concept of dual identity to make separating a device between work and personal is a uniquely BlackBerry offering that should appeal to users who take their device to work or use their work device at home.

Super Apps will be more Super

RIM already has a number of highly regarded apps and a slew of Super Apps. But the specifications of the new Bold (and the Playbook) will ensure that super apps become super charged. And the demos at BlackBerry World indicate that an ever improving slate of apps is coming soon and will continue hence.

Android Apps

I admit to being a skeptic about Android apps on BlackBerry for a number of reasons. However, the demos at BlackBerry World showed that in certain instances porting Android apps could provide a good experience for Playbook users. However, I would suggest that instead of positioning Android porting as simply a “take an Android app and sell it on BlackBerry” it should be positioned as “Here is a solution that gets your app 90% Playbook ready.” This ensures motivated developers can leverage limited resources but also promises Playbook users that they will get an app that will take full advantage of all the APIs and hardware the Playbook has to offer.

With dedicated developers, unique offerings such as BlackBerry Messenger, and strong ties to the enterprise RIM can surely overcome the short term challenges it faces as it transitions to a more consumer oriented brand that continues to thrive in the enterprise.

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