Technology Flashback: Blackberry Playbook (2011)

The Blackberry Playbook looked promising at CES 2011.

I’ll never forget attending CES at the beginning of 2011. It was my first time attending the event. It was exhausting and 3D was supposed to be the next big thing according to all the CES hype. Needless to say, that didn’t quite happen. My personal favorite from CES 2011 was the Blackberry Playbook.

I was writing for at the time and wrote a very exciting article about the Playbook, titled “Blackberry Playbook Opens Eyes and Mouths at CES.” It was love at first sight for the Playbook and I. My article revealed the following:

“I had to stand in line for a while, but it was completely worth it—the Blackberry Playbook, which runs an operating system known as QNX, was very impressive. The multimedia features impressed onlookers the most—the Blackberry Playbook easily shoots and plays 1080p HD video. Even though there were some minor hiccups while loading flash-enabled pages, representatives from Blackberry said the final version of the Blackberry Playbook will load pages faster.”

The Blackberry Playbook software was half-baked when released in April of 2011.

There was such hype for the device. However, Blackberry released the Playbook in April 0f 2011 and the reviews were less than stellar. The problem was that the software wasn’t ready. There was no proper email client. There was barely any operating system. It’s obvious that RIM had to rush the device to the market. It became one of the worst launches in computer history and terribly hurt RIM’s reputation. Since the botched release of the Playbook, RIM has suffered and the term “Blackberry” is synonymous with “antique.”

As incomplete as the Playbook was, it still had flashes of brilliance. For example, it was one of the first tablets that could shoot 1080p videos, and did so with stereo sound. If my memory serves correctly though, I think one had to download a plugin to play the videos. Perhaps the plugin was for playing videos of a different format. Either way, the device was incomplete.

The Playbook also had a decent “Webkit” browser; pages loaded really fast and moving the pages around was smooth. The Playbook also had Flash 10.1, which was very rare for a tablet. Apple had recently gave Flash it’s death mark by refusing to integrate it into their mobile devices, so other companies weren’t excited to include it. I really enjoyed watching YouTube videos on the Playbook.

It’s unfortunate that the Playbook didn’t succeed. However, the botched release of the tablet taught other companies a strong lesson in marketing: Do not promise what you can’t deliver. Even if RIM makes a comeback in the near future, they will always have the stain of the Blackberry Playbook.

About Daryl

Daryl Deino has been a technology enthusiast since 1995 and has written for several newspapers and technology sites. Please reach him at [email protected]
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