RIM’s PlayBook hits market with a critical app deficit

Apr 18, 2011
Finance

Clothes may make the man. But it’s the apps that make the tab. And Research In Motion’s (RIMM) PlayBook is starting off with a definite apps deficit as it hits the market Tuesday. It will only have 3,000 apps vs. the hundreds of thousands available for the iPad from (AAPL). Omar El Akkad reports in […]

Clothes may make the man. But it’s the apps that make the tab.

And Research In Motion’s (RIMM) PlayBook is starting off with a definite apps deficit as it hits the market Tuesday. It will only have 3,000 apps vs. the hundreds of thousands available for the iPad from (AAPL). Omar El Akkad reports in The Globe and Mail on PlayBook’s problems: “Apple’s iPad can make use of the hundreds of thousands of apps built for the smaller iPhone. But PlayBook owners won’t be able to use even the much smaller number of BlackBerry apps until RIM has a fix ready this summer.”

He said RIM will enable PlayBook users to run apps designed for competing tablets from Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system this summer. “The move means an infusion of tens of thousands of apps for the PlayBook,” he said.

Farhad Manjoo points out other issues in Slate: “Reviewers who have gotten early access to the PlayBook have been almost universally puzzled by how half-baked it is. In its current form, the PlayBook doesn’t include any apps to access your email, calendar and address book. To get those things, you’ve got to have a BlackBerry phone, too.”

He describes this approach as nothing less than insane and a sign of a company “circling the drain.” He said RIM’s co-CEOs have been “comically incoherent about their plans for the future” as its share of the smartphone market has been gobbled.

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RIM, based in Waterloo, Canada, seems to have taken on a bunker mentality. They’re not feeling the love.

Mike Lazaridis, “the brain behind the BlackBerry,” is taking a leaf from the boys over at South Park who sang in the film South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut: “Blame Canada.”

El Akkad said: “Lazaridis is proud of his role in turning this – RIM, the city of Waterloo, the university, the institutes – into a hotbed of innovation. But he is bothered, too, because he believes people don’t understand how much all of this is really worth.

“Maybe we’re just not good at promoting ourselves. Maybe that’s the Canadian way.”

He said that he and fellow CEO, Jim Balsillie, perhaps should have moved the company to Silicon Valley instead of remaining “loyal patriots” to the Great White North.

PlayBook will show whether RIM has a second act in its playbook following its success with BlackBerry in the corporate and government markets, and whether it can penetrate a consumer market created by and dominated by Apple.

El Akkad said, “It’s an audacious strategy. If it succeeds, RIM just might regain the ground it has lost in the smartphone market, while finding new sources of revenue. But if the strategy fails, then arguably so does RIM. At the very least, it would relegate it to No. 3 status for a long time to come, a poor cousin to Apple and Google – two companies that five years ago were not even in RIM’s business of wireless communications.”

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Let the games begin.

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