back to article RIM unveils The BlackPad BlackBerry PlayBook

Update: This story has been updated with additional information from RIM's DevCon keynote. Research in Motion — maker of the BlackBerry — has unveiled an Apple-battling tablet version of its email-friendly handheld. They call it the BlackPad BlackBerry PlayBook. And as rumors indicated, it's based on a new operating system …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. David McMahon
    Jobs Horns


    They were too scared to use the word "pad"

    Hang on, that means I'm gonna get sued too!

    I'd be grateful to apple for a list of words I am allowed to use!

    Today's Mission, turn every story into an iHate comment! 10 points each! :)

    1. someone up north

      yhave use " I "

      you have use " I" 3 time, so a lawyer will be knocking on your door soon!

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      They were too scared to use the word "pad" Not

      The clue is in the name - Pad - rip off and throw away.

  2. Cryptokid

    Yay QNX!!

    I remember playing with QNX years ago - you could boot off of a floppy disk to a complete graphical environment. Not only did this include a graphical environment, but also TCP/IP stack, a web browser, and even a web server. All on one small floppy. It took a while to boot but just imagine what they could do on a tablet! Can't wait to see it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Yay QNX!!

      Yes, that little OS on a floppy was quite remarkable and I agree that it bodes well for this tablet. QNX is my second favourite hobby OS behind BeOS!

      1. BingBong

        QNX single floppy was cool ...

        But lets see how well Flash runs with sites like ... it's a soggy nightmare on a 2Ghz Intel Core 2 Duo.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Down


          Flies along here on a single core atom....

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


      I hope RIM do the right thing by their acquisition of QNX. I think the decision to close up the source base of QNX earlier in the year was perhaps not the right thing to do as it certainly made me markedly less interested in looking at QNX.

      The traffic on the open forums certainly suggests perhaps this was the wrong thing to do.


      1. Open up the source code again.

      2. You can always make money by selling a distro around it with support as you are already. And this RIM pad thingy.

      3. If this RIM pad thing takes off, there will be a lot of end-user apps created. Use this momentum and consider releasing a desktop version. Encourage porting of more of the stuff in the linux userland that we all take for granted. Nevertheless, try and keep the bloat down or at least, optional. It's nice not to have X necessary for example.

      Then shall we see if the microkernel advantage truly exists. This I would really like to see. I think the linux kernel is too bloated and complicated and if truly a simpler alternative exists, I would like to try it.

      Even if it fails, I think the journey would be worth it. What would it cost you, RIM, to win more people over to your camp?

      1. jai

        RIM open up the source?

        yes and on that day Beelzebub will win first prize in the Best Snowman Builder competition

  3. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
    Thumb Up

    This is (likely) so...


    I am only worried about the lack of a keyboard and if the OS is locked down.

    If they give us an unlocked neutrino, I will be in the queue.

  4. RichyS
    Thumb Down

    Size matters

    7" is way too small for a tablet. I'll show some interest when a 10" version turns up.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      speak for yourself. 10" is no good for me for travel. 7" is the way to go. :p

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Or you can get a real iPad instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Probably a Win for me but...

      Ipad is nice but this has connectivity options (the ipad has just the dock connector). If I can plug my digital camera in, suck photos from the camera (or via a card reader) to this device when I'm out on holiday (so I have a backup of them and we can see them whilst we are there) it's a WIN for me.

      Saves me carrying a laptop as I currently do for the same job.

      Lack of USB to pull in anything in (in my case images but could be video) and the premium of the Apple tax puts me off an ipad. Guess this will depend on price and what all the clones will come in at pricewise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: using pad to backup/view pictures

        iPad does this, handy it is too! Better than lugging a laptop around on holiday.

        1. Ammaross Danan


          Once you buy the additional connector for $99 (read Sterling if in the UK)

      2. Michael C

        not useful

        Reasons I don;t care (the short list)

        1) Airplay. Don't need to hook iPad to TV ever. HDMI adapter pointless. When in doubt, VGA adapter cheap and easy to come by.

        2) SD cards with built-in WiFI, no need to physically connect to get to photos.

        3) limited storage, just 2 of my SD cards would 100% fill the largest iPad or any other non HDD based tablet proposed, let alone released. I need the laptop handy for big shoots anyway. btw, I'm not a pro photographer, but having 1080p shooting capability on my camera means filling up data cards FAST. The iPad is not a dumping ground or storage unit, nor is any tablet. Larger SD cards are cheaper than getting more storage in tablets anyway.

        4) HDMI and USB ports are not hermetically sealed. Dock port is. iPad is significantly more weather resistant for it.

        5) camera backup. If having 2 copies of your images is that critical, a laptop with and external HDD and a WiFi enabled SD card is FAR superior to connecting the camera to the device. If you can wait until you get back to a room, or a car, a laptop is no burden. If you can not, the iPad (or other tablet) is no benefit becaus eit IMPORTS 9but does not COPY) the files from the connected camera, and wose, can delete them crom the camera automatically. Syncing back to the camera to have 2 copies is not easy. I'e also seen cameras scrub the data on connect due to errors. WiFi syncing in real time as pics are taken is the only secure method for protecting important pics (and the unimportant ones can be off-loaded later in the day)

        6) Apple Tax? ok, first off name a more capable/powerful tablet actually for sale for less money. Next considder Apple Store app prices vs android; where the same app from the same company is 95% of the time 2X the price on android. Next considder contracts (or lack of them) on iPad. If you meant the "apple tax" on macs, I point you to the iMac and the MacBook, neither or which can even be BUILT from stock parts on NewEgg for less money. TCO of apple is lower than PC when comparing devices in the same compute class. This is only disputed by anti-apple people and trolls, and not any experts who open minded folk who actually look at real numbers. 5-6 years ago, yea, Apple was more expensive. You can discuss the apple tax again when you show me a device on the market with better specs, lower software costs, and has the same base features (or more).

  6. Anonymous Coward

    eeh, Neutrino? who said anything about neutrino

    @sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD: that's wishful thinking. I highly doubt that thing will run Neutrino. Note that it says it runs a "new OS from QNX". It's probably something that's custom built for RIM (just like they got custom built stuff for Cisco and everyone else).

    And open? It will probably be as open as any other Berry is. RIM also has a berry app store, so that bodes with that idea just as well.

    We'll have to wait and see, but locked down tablets are the rage these days. For manufacturers it offers much easier OS updates, support, etc (no worries about special configs, drivers, etc. Just re-flash and go), and in addition they make money from their ad networks and app stores. Why give that up when people are willing to buy devices like those?

    1. Daniel B.

      BB OS

      The BlackBerry OS & platform is much more open than the Apple ecosystem. And while RIM has the AppWorld app store, it isn't the only place to purchase BB apps. An open platform, even if the OS is fairly closed, will definitely attract developers. Those who are already in the BB ecosystem will probably be enticed to buy one of these as well, and contrary to what the iPhans would like to believe, RIM still holds the #2 spot worldwide, #1 in the US and has expanded down to the midrange markets.

  7. famousringo

    Looks like a solid offering

    I always wonder how these 7" screens will be for typing. I find the iPad's keyboard surprisingly usable, and I wonder how a smaller screen would compare.

    And then there's the question of the almighty dollar...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    This sounds good, and if I want a keyboard I can hook one up to it easy as or even use the blackberry keyboard :D.

    Now if they offer support for other moblies even if using blackberry connect then I'm sure they will open the market up nicely.

    Nice spec, love QNX for being a proper realtime multitasking OS and cant realy fault this bit of kit.

    Now if only they would port the BES to a nice QNX standalone box that buinesses just have to plug in. That would sell and return profit from avenues they otherwise end up giving to other hardware/software(OS) vendors.

    1. Michael C


      the iPad supprots almost all bluetooth keyboards as well as many dock enabled models, likely including the one you already use with a blackberry.

  9. Paul Thomas 1


    As mobile screens start to get bigger, the new Torch is 3.2in, you have to wonder where seperate 7in devices fit in.

    If the primary use of this is just a bigger screen for Blackberry users it's likely to be an expensive buy, also it would have to be seamless extension of the Blackberry phone for users both ways to make it worth thinking about.

    1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

      RE: size

      " have to wonder where seperate 7in devices fit in...." Same place as the iCowPat - people travelling around that want a screen they can actually watch a movie, play some games or edit photos.

      "....If the primary use of this is just a bigger screen for Blackberry users it's likely to be an expensive buy...." The problem for me is that it needs the additional BB to provide all the BB services. What I actually wanted was a 3G/WiFi BB with a 7" screen, but without the connectivity options or the BIS/BES email capability I might as well just buy an Archeros or one of the other mini-tablets (no, I won't buy the iPad). Then I could use the BB handset during the week at work, and take the BBpad out for weekends and travel and leave the BB handset at home.

  10. Sam Tana
    Paris Hilton

    Bad name

    "Playbook" might mean something sporty in the States, but worldwide it means nothing. It sounds like something you'd give to a six year old, along with some crayons - or Playpens, as RIM call them.

    Paris, because she's heading for the Playbook Mansion.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      Yep, it is mismarketed from day one

      I guess it will follow the steps of the previous touchscreen-interface 7 inch QNX device. 3Com had a "bedroom/kitchen computer" based on QNX with a stylus and keyboard about 10 years ago in the hayday of the crazy Internet commercial models. It was a spectacular flop.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Terribly bad name, even stupid

      I had the same thoughts. RIM are positioning this device as clearly a business device. Can you imaging the business case that requests purchasing x number of playbooks for your organisation?! The beancounters will kick you out of the company! "What? in a recession, you wants us to approve a play book?!"

      It is a really bad marketing move, once of the worst ones I have seen. RIM should be brave enough to face Apple on the use of the word "pad", after all no-one has a monopoly on the word "book", "lap", etc. I would suggest any of the following -



      pBook (p for professional rather than play)


    3. Alex Walsh


      Use of the word play didn't do Sony any harm when the Playstation came along :)

    4. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Bad name

      Too right.

      I can see this one tagging onto those mailed lists of "clever sounding brand names that tanked in other markets 'cos the maker was too bleedin' stupid to think about what it might mean internationally.".

      You know, along with wax tadpole cola, cars that advertise your pathetic knob size and such.

    5. Magnus Ramage
      Thumb Up

      Pad is bad

      I think the name works quite well. It doesn't have much resonance to my ear with other things, but it doesn't sound especially childlike. The combination of 'play' and 'book' mixes serious and creative, in a way I'd think would go down quite well in large swathes of business, if not among the ultra greysuited types.

      And I'm glad they've not gone for a me-too name based on 'pad'. It clearly distinguishes the product, in name at least, as doing something different from Apple. Whether the product is distinctive I guess we'll have to wait and see as it emerges from the mists of vapourware into something people can actually try.

    6. Doug Glass

      Yeah ...

      ... a name is so much more important that the device itself.

  11. Anonymous Coward


    Seriously?, now that's another Marketing classic!

    And on to the specs, small screen, no cellular data and a year late so it'll be up against the iPad v2.

    Oh dear, move on please there's nothing to see here.......

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Price is key

    So far neither Samsung nor Dell have come up with a tablet to beat Apple on price. So i'd surprised if Blackberry could do better. Apple competitive on headline price? Who'd have thunk it?

    1. James Hughes 1

      And why haven't they?

      Because the parts cost for a tablet are lower than for a laptop, yet they cost more. Samsung and Dell are trying to cash in, and are going to fail doing it. They need to make stuff cheaper, not more expensive, than the iPad. Archos for example, (will) do a high spec 10.1" tablet for £300. That's where the big sales will come it.

      And they should have called this the WorkSlate or something. (and the home version could be the PlaySlate). I bagsie copyright on those names.

    2. RegisterThis

      Not surprising ...

      ... as they both have more functionality e.g. cameras, removable storage etc. Question is when (not if!), Apple adds this for iPad v2, whether it will still be cheaper?

      1. James Hughes 1

        So how to you explain the Archos

        Which has the same high spec (higher) than the Dell and Samsung, yet cost half the price?

    3. Michael C

      price of hardware not all

      Its not just device price, but TCO. Apple has them all beat on that too. Nobody has a software selection to come close to apple, BB apps have always been priced out of reasonability ($40+ for apps that are $5 on iOS), and even Androd apps of the same name and manufacturer of the equivalent (and often better looking) iOS app cost 2X on android.

      and what does the BES tablet work with? iPad works with PC and Mac flawlessly, Airplay, hundreds of devices, its not just a device with apps, but a whole ecosystems of accessories. Nothing that's not priced at least $200 less will attract significant numbers of buyers without them feeling underserverd and remorsefull of their purchase later.

  13. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
    Thumb Up

    BlackBerry Bold?

    A brave marketing strategy by RIM here with the choice of name and seeming focus of user.

    'PlayBook' sounds like it's aimed at the consumer market rather than RIM's core existing business users, so it'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

    I expected them to go with something that would appeal to their existing user base to consolidate the market there before expanding to the 'casual users' and taking on the iPad directly.

    Or maybe I'm just bitter cos I had a fiver on the unveiled name being BlueBerry... But as an existing BlackBerry user, I'm looking forward to having a look at this when it's released and seeing what it can do. No pre-order, but I have no doubt I'll pop in to a retailer and have a play then make up my mind.

  14. gimbal
    Thumb Up

    Cool name, nifty OS mfgr

    PlayBook! Now that's fun.

    I remember using an old not-for-profit demo that QNX offered on Intel platforms, a certain version of their their Neutrino OS, for a time - it was available sometime around 2002, maybe. It had a swell GUI, with a comfortable design look to it .

    Pardon me for not being one of those low-level-systems guys, who might be able comment more meaningfully about it ;)

  15. IglooDude

    Blackberry Enterprise Servers

    "Yes, the PlayBook connects to existing BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, which, according to Lazaridis, now number 250 million worldwide."

    Seriously? He isn't just assuming download=installed and running? At an estimated four billion mobile phones currently on the planet, I'd think it is more likely that he's referring to Blackberry phones themselves (thus somewhere around eight percent global market share), rather than BES installations.

  16. Tom 38

    Wow, scaling opportunity


    Yes, the PlayBook connects to existing BlackBerry Enterprise Servers, which, according to Lazaridis, now number 250 million worldwide.


    250 million servers? Assuming every person on the planet has a blackberry, thats just 28 people per server!

    It looks good, but I don't think it will compete with the ipad, which by the time this launches will have shifted so many units - which will give Apple larger economies of scale. The ipad is expensive, but I don't think that Apple are making too much money off each unit - I think the pricing between these tablets will be competitive, until they start being sold subsidised by the networks anyway.

    Plus it will be up against the apple refresh. Even More Magic (tm).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iPad profits

      Working on no evidence whatsoever, I would think Apple are making a shitload of profit on each iPad. Cheap processor, small display, no camera, cheap memory, no HD. Not much hardware there to pay for. About the only thing it has, that a much cheaper laptop/netbook doesn't, is the touch screen, and they ain't expensive (and probably cheaper than the mechanical stuff required to make the laptop hinge properly).

      1. Ammaross Danan
        Thumb Up


        Congrats, you just defined what "Apple Tax" is.

  17. Andy Farley

    Nice bezel.

    These things, like it or not, are mainly sold on aesthetics - and that looks poor. But as ever, the dev interest will make or break this. I can't actually see many jumping to what could be another dead end. If it was a real game-changer, then maybe. As is, no.

    If I were them I'd be busy making deals with Uncle Google.

  18. Pirate Peter

    another one off my list

    "Before revealing the PlayBook, Lazaridis unveiled a web-based development platform for the BlackBerry and the BlackBerry PlayBook known as WebWorks, a means of building apps in HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript. It allows for in-app payments, and it provides in-app advertising via RIM's new BlackBerry Advertising Services"

    why does everything have to have embeded advert capabilities,

    i am fed up with being tracked by super cookies, flash LSO's and all the rest of the junk advertisers are using , it has been shown people are creating code in html5 that enables virtually indestructable super cookie capability

    i am fed up with having to take the time to secure my devices so that every man and his dog does not know what web pages i have looked at as soon as i click a button

    what we need is a blank tablet you can put an OS of your choice on, like a pc / laptop. i don't think it will be that long coming either

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge


      It's simply because people won't buy software for mobile devices. When forced to they try to circumvent the protection and run hooky versions.

      So instead developers make them free and then get revenue from advertising.

  19. Gil Grissum

    OH YES

    RIM definitely has my attention on this one. Give it some useable apps and a good price, and I'll get one.

  20. ColonelClaw

    Unsure on this one

    I would guess Blackberry are targeting existing users as buyers of these pads? The brand isn't really exciting or sexy enough for non-Blackberry users to go for, especially when you consider the corporate image Blackberry products have.

    With that in mind do the people this product is aimed at want to use this pad after work hours, or would they rather get away from their Blackberrys and go for something leisure-orientated (iPad, Android etc) instead? I've got a feeling the strong corporate links Blackberry have will put many off wanting to own this. After all what's the fun in watching a movie or playing a game on a device you boss could contact you on at any given moment?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh! Exploitable.

    This company's called 'RIM'?

    Q: What you doin' there?

    A: RIMming.

  22. Sander van der Wal
    Thumb Down

    Only WebKit and Flash development

    Major downer. As the success of native iPhone apps, and the complete lack of success of iPhone webkit apps has shown, you need native apps.

    1. Ammaross Danan


      You failed to read the part about the "native SDK" to be released on launch.

  23. D675

    Not the BlackPad...

    CrackPad - job done.

  24. Toastan Buttar

    "Playbook" ?

    Well, I'd certainly rather ask for that in a shop than a "RIM-Pad".

  25. Mat Rule
    Thumb Up

    Stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap

    Instead of the crazy prices Apple is asking for....£199 will do it ;-)

  26. Badwolf

    comic effect

    Playbook.... lol - say it again for effect... Playbook

    yup - its real - Playbook......

  27. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Cool OS aside

    I think a 7 inch screened tablet is too small. Maybe these 7 inch screened tablets should be called a sub-tablet. Or ultra mobile tablets.

    They're only a little bigger than a phone in terms of screen real estate.

    Use of QNX seems a little odd these days, it was cool back in the 90s when alternatives to Windows were cropping up and vanishing all the time. But is it really worth all the work to keep it working on the latest embedded devices?

    Maybe if RIM were building an entire product range around then it would make sense.

  28. clive howard

    Flash? Aaaagh....

    Not interested in the Jesus Phone / Apple religion.

    Hate Flash, block it in my web browsing.

    What do I do now?

  29. J. Cook Silver badge

    So Close...

    But two things turn me off:

    7" screen. Call me a pendant, but if you are gonna compete with the iPad, you need to match screen sizes at least. The 7" screens@ 1024x600? I'm going to have the thing in my face to watch video on it, and it's scaling even 720p at that. No thanks.

    Requires a suitable tethering host for cell access via bluetooth? Sounds like a plan to sell more crackberries, with this as an 'accessory', which I can guarentee ain't gonna fly for some people. If I'm taking this thing with me, I would rather have the cell hardware embedded, and either move my SIM card to it (for voice and data calls on a single plan), or have a data-only plan for it. And I'm not sure about the rest of the readers here, but leaving the BT radio on tends to suck the life out of my devices battery a bit quicker then normal.

    And knowing RIM, it's going to be priced at quite a bit of money, which will make it a certain No-Buy for me.

    Maybe I should try one of those cheap iPad knockoffs running droid from e-Bay after all...

    1. Fuzz

      Suitable BT tethering host

      If it just supports the standard profile then pretty much any bluetooth phone ever made will work. It's only since the iphone came along that the idea of not being able to tether a phone became an issue.

      As to battery life I've not noticed any difference since I started running bluetooth all the time for use with my car hands free.

This topic is closed for new posts.