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Of all the companies I ever thought would a make bold move, RIM never crossed my mind as one. I had heard rumors of the firm coming out with a tablet but never really thought that it would happen. The introduction of the Blackberry Playbook yesterday put that to rest and with it, anteed up the stakes that Microsoft has to tackle and no, I donâ€™t think the HP slate or a full Windows 7 tablet is up to par.
The Playbook has all the dream specs of a tablet I wrote a about long time ago that Microsoft should build and the only thing that would hold it back is the user experience. RIM has a huge brand following in the enterprise and this tablet, IMHO, puts the brakes on any rapid encroachment that the iPad or any Android tablet may have had in that space. Sure, some companies may still move to the Apple and Google offerings but, companies already invested in the RIM infrastructure now have a viable alternative that satisfies all their security and enterprise needs. The two upstarts still have along way to go in that area and the only other player who could make a credible challenge, Microsoft, is nowhere to be found.
Microsoftâ€™s plans of using full Windows 7 on a tablet are just bone-headed and I hope they realize that sooner rather than later. A tablet needs above all to have great battery life which the Playbooks will most likely have (they have a great reputation in this) and a touch based user experience built from the ground up and not as add-on. I have never really cared for the BB OS, even newest version 6.0, but I think they have done enough with the new QNX version on the tablet to make most of their loyal users happy. With the smart move of seamless pairing with BB phones and standard micro-usb and micro-HDMI ports, the playbook will surely find a place in a lot of consumers hearts. The hardware specs are also high enough to meet any challenges for the next year or two.
What is funny and I must say sad to watch, are the usual critics write the device off because the â€œiPad 2 will be out soon and Android 3 will conquer all!â€ What they fail to see is that RIM has just given their sizeable base a reason to pause and not consider an iPad, an Android tablet or for that matter anything from Microsoft and gives the time to become relevant in the tablet space. For all the handwringing from the so called experts about the demise or decline of RIM, they are in fact growing in sales and will be a formidable competitor for a long time.
What I hope we see from Microsoft during their October 11th event is their plan and hopefully a device for the tablet market that runs on a modified Widows Phone 7 UI. They have insisted in the past that it is not the direction they are willing to take, but I am afraid that it they donâ€™t, they will face the same problem of being late in the game like they did with the smartphones. It is a costly mistake that I hope they donâ€™t repeat. The tablet (Microsoftâ€™s) does not have to all the features right out of the gate just like WP7, but, it will give their loyal users like me, a reason to wait instead of jumping to alternative options just like Mary-Jo Foley did with an iPad because she could not find good option from Microsoft.
So again, well played RIM, what will your answer be Microsoft?