1. Dapper37's Avatar
    The reincarnation of the BlackBerry PlayBook is under way. A far more market-oriented 2.0 version of the ill-fated tablet will be released later this month. But can it restore faith in the brand? ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to the device’s main evangelist.

    Vivek Bhardwaj probably has the best and worst job at Research in Motion. As Head of Software Portfolio for Europe, Middle East and Africa, he is one of the first to try out the new operating systems and apps on BlackBerry phones and tablets. A year ago, that wouldn’t have been much fun, as the media ridiculed the company for releasing a tablet computer that could not even run e-mail by itself. Today, things are a little different.

    So it is that, at BlackBerry DevCon Europe in Amsterdam this week, he is the only person walking around with a fully functional beta version of the PlayBook 2.0 tablet (See our review: Hands-on with the PlayBook 2.0).

    Not that mere mortals are too envious: RIM had presented every one of 2 000 developers in attendance with the most current commercial version, a PlayBook running version 1.08 of BlackBerry’s tablet operating system, along with the software development kit (SDK) for developing apps for the new PlayBook. When 2.0 is released, the software on the tablets will be upgraded to the new version.

    The tablet hand-out is part of RIM’s strategy to win over the developer community, which globally is focused most heavily on Android and iOS apps. It still has another 23 000 tablets to hand out at similar events around the world.

    While the developers are checking out how well Angry Birds performs on the PlayBook 1.08, Bhardwaj’s main role is to demonstrate how far removed 2.0 is from 1.0. And he is under no illusions about where he has to start: the messaging, contact and calendar capability that was so lacking in the first version.

    “The first thing I want to show you is in the built-in communications apps,” he says, revealing a messaging panel that integrates e-mail, instant messaging, social network statuses, tweets and messages. He had demonstrated this functionality during the keynote address of his boss, new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins, to a sea of bobbing heads: a couple of thousand developers nodding in approval.

    “Parallel to that is Bridge 2.0, the remote control experience,” he says, referring to the big shift from Bridge as an app to view a BlackBerry smartphones’ e-mail on the tablet, to it being a remote control app for managing the device from the phone. Suddenly, instead of being a liability, it becomes a bonus.

    “Our original take of what the PlayBook should be was very different from what it is now. Taking the same paradigm from phone to tablet just didn't work,” Bhardwaj acknowledges.

    He also admits that it had taken far longer than expected to introduce the new version of the software.

    “It was coupled with a brand new user experience, but also the fact that a lot of the power behind those apps was from two of our acquisitions, and integrating that was perhaps a little more time consuming than we originally thought. We wanted to take the time to integrate all of that under the hood.

    “On top of that, we built out 2.0. When the original comments were made by our executives in response to market demands, they said ‘you’ll get your e-mail on the tablet’, because that was the issue.

    “But now 2.0 is a complete overhaul. It changes the experience. We’ve added apps like print-to-go, new file transfer capabilities, and enhanced every other app.”

    One of the most important of these enhancements, and probably the very heart of the device in terms of differentiating it from all others, is that the operating system is separated from the apps and data that have been installed on the device. The result: PlayBook users don't have to back up and restore every time an update of the operating system is released.

    The implication of this is simple but powerful: the PlayBook has leapfrogged all other tablet makers in ensuring the stability of the user experience across versions.

    “The single biggest issue on any platform is that customers hate backing up all data and having to restore it. Firstly, there is often a lot of data to restore. Secondly, you can’t use the device while you are doing the upgrade. Thirdly, you are never sure if you will get it all back,

    “Yet, it is an unnecessary step. One of great things we have done is that we have partitioned the device, and used the QNX micro-kernel to partition areas of the OS quite effectively. We have separate the radio function from the core OS. That will help is speed up carrier certification as well, which was part of the bottleneck we were trying to fix.

    “It is now the only platform where you can watch a movie and install the OS update at same time.“

    Fans of BlackBerry Messenger will be disappointed to find that it hasn’t arrived on the PlayBook yet. RIM’s reason? It’s not yet good enough to match up to the rest of the PlayBook experience. But it is on its way.

    “When we recently announced 2.0 was being released this month, we also announced that, until we get BBM to a point where it’s worthy of users, we will take it out. There is such high expectation for what we deliver, we couldn't possibly launch it with the features we have today. So expect BBM later this year; our teams are working on it.”

    Bhardwaj will not be drawn on new features in BBM, insisting that the goal is making sure it is reliable and that it “just works”, as it does on smartphones, before unleashing it.

    Enterprise security remains a cornerstone of the device.

    “From an enterprise point of view, mobile fusion and BlackBerry Device Service (BDS), will leverage our security and efficiency. In the enterprise space, you connect the PlayBook to the BDS, and it talks to Exchange, but we wrap our services around it.

    “We continue with the security we built into BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES). It provides a secure tunnel for connecting to the Enterprise, and connecting smartphones, tablets and services. There’s a huge opportunity for us to develop this entire ecosystem, but it needs to be based on standards.”

    Aside from the features of the devices, the single biggest demand from the marker is that the company displays a greater sense of urgency, and a faster upgrade of its platforms.

    “You will see progress and speed,” says Bhardwaj, mustering his considerable sense of diplomacy as he couches this urgency in the business-as-usual tones adopted by company executives, while they acknowledge that they have to operate in a new way.

    “One of RIM’s commitments is making sure what the scope is of what needs to be done and then to execute, and not try to innovate while in execution mode. That is part of the shift that RIM is making into this year. You will see us much more focused on execution. We will be innovating, but not to interrupt execution.”

    Why then no greater sense of urgency in producing PlayBook 2,0 and the new operating system that will operate across tablets and smartphone, namely BlackBerry 10 – still vaguely scheduled for release sometime “later this year”.

    Bhardwaj is unapologetic: “We wanted to make sure what we are designing is future proof, and not creating an environment that doesn't allow us to improve and evolve. PlayBook 2.0 lays the foundation for BlackBerry 10. It's the building block for BlackBerry10. It’s an evolution.

    “PlayBook 2.0 is a fantastic experience, a real big step forward. We are leading the field in Over The Air (OTA) software updates. Carriers have a part to play in those updates, but a lot of the mechanics we put into that means faster OS upgrades, faster fixes, and more stability. Playbook is now stable. This isn’t just s smartphone OS. It is more akin to a mobile computing platform. You can’t rush that.”

    Bhardwaj is wary of linking the success of BlackBerry smartphones in South Africa to the potential of the PlayBook.

    “Part of that success was naturally the BlackBerry Internet Service and the huge traction of things like BBM. When we look at the PlayBook in South Africa, we still need to build services at a local market level and determine the right channels. It is a combination of factors that makes a product a success.

    “For the PlayBook, it is still early days. Now that we have such a powerful way to update the software, 2.0 will create a brand new experience, and will be a positive spark in markets like South Africa, where we are already successful today.”
    Last edited by Dapper37; 02-10-12 at 08:46 AM.
    02-10-12 08:20 AM
  2. Economist101's Avatar
    It's a thread so nice he posted it twice.
    02-10-12 08:26 AM
  3. Dapper37's Avatar
    One of great things we have done is that we have partitioned the device, and used the QNX micro-kernel to partition areas of the OS quite effectively. We have separate the radio function from the core OS. That will help is speed up carrier certification as well, which was part of the bottleneck we were trying to fix.

    Very interesting the way they can do this.
    02-10-12 09:09 AM
  4. bquinney's Avatar
    One of great things we have done is that we have partitioned the device, and used the QNX micro-kernel to partition areas of the OS quite effectively. We have separate the radio function from the core OS. That will help is speed up carrier certification as well, which was part of the bottleneck we were trying to fix.

    Very interesting the way they can do this.
    That, which allows this, "It is now the only platform where you can watch a movie and install the OS update at same time.", gave me a huge "WOW"...
    02-10-12 09:35 AM
  5. missing_K-W's Avatar
    Let's hope QNX'S "Fast Boot " technology is incorporated in the near future....Let's take that one step further and use QNX'S ability to not have to re-boot...I hope that RIM utilizes this in the future..
    Rob Robertson likes this.
    02-10-12 09:56 AM
  6. palmless's Avatar
    Were I the new CMO, the use of the word "leapfrog" would be BANNED from ALL corporate communication.

    When the great mass of users find out that they can theoretically watch a movie while performing an OS update, I expect them to respond with a thundering "Huh? What does that mean?".
    addicted44 and JAGWIRE like this.
    02-10-12 09:56 AM
  7. Sith_Apprentice's Avatar
    Were I the new CMO, the use of the word "leapfrog" would be BANNED from ALL corporate communication.

    When the great mass of users find out that they can theoretically watch a movie while performing an OS update, I expect them to respond with a thundering "Huh? What does that mean?".

    They need to draw real world comparisons to make them understand. How about driving in a vehicle with your phone as a GPS. At a red light you see a software update, you hit update now and the phone does its thing in the background and the GPS comes back up. Then you go driving off at the green light like nothing happened. When you get to your destination you turn off the GPS and reveal the "would you like to reboot". Hitting yes your phone reboots and you slip it into your pocket. A couple minutes later you pull it out and new software/features are available on the phone.
    02-10-12 10:12 AM
  8. Superfly_FR's Avatar
    Precise, concise, clear. Love it.

    PS: happy first K post, Dapper !
    kingbernie06511 likes this.
    02-10-12 11:35 AM
  9. anthogag's Avatar
    Updating the OS in the background reminds me of the concept of flow Thorsten talked about at Devcon

    It looks like qnx IS the next gen os...the leap-frogger
    02-10-12 01:39 PM
  10. kevinnugent's Avatar
    Well, apart from the terrible "corporate speak" that I detest, it seems like RIM may actually have been listening to their customers.

    If so, I may be impressed.
    02-10-12 04:31 PM
  11. kingbernie06511's Avatar
    BBM later this year!!!!!!!
    02-10-12 05:06 PM
  12. kingbernie06511's Avatar
    Quote: "Bhardwaj is wary of linking the success of BlackBerry smartphones in South Africa to the potential of the PlayBook."

    Every BB phone being sold in a BB box should contain a 25$ discount for a playbook and vice versa.
    Flexin and purijagmohan like this.
    02-10-12 05:09 PM
  13. BBPandy's Avatar
    where did you get this article from? You didn't list sources

    EDIT:
    I found it
    http://www.gadget.co.za/pebble.asp?relid=4299
    Last edited by bbpandy; 02-10-12 at 06:16 PM.
    02-10-12 06:14 PM
  14. Dapper37's Avatar
    Precise, concise, clear. Love it.

    PS: happy first K post, Dapper !
    Thanks. I hope the next K get easier
    Superfly_FR likes this.
    02-10-12 07:36 PM
  15. Dapper37's Avatar
    where did you get this article from? You didn't list sources

    EDIT:
    I found it
    Gadget Web Site - Playtime at RIM
    Sorry about the editing. I errased the link during the posting of the article. But yes you found it, I originaly copied a tweet from A Saunders.
    maddie1128 likes this.
    02-10-12 07:39 PM
  16. Dapper37's Avatar
    It's a thread so nice he posted it twice.

    Sorry if this post is not perfect enough for you. I know you demand perfection with every CB poster.
    Truth is I posted it wile leaveing a village in northern Laos, on a dirt road in the back of a pick up truck, with my Bold 9650. At the same time my friends ip4s was a ibrick!
    02-11-12 03:21 AM
  17. world traveler and former ceo's Avatar
    great post! thank!!! can;t wait for Playbook 2.0!!
    02-11-12 06:58 AM
  18. JAGWIRE's Avatar
    This means a lot for PB and RIM as a company. This is definatly the turn around that they were hoping for / needed. The big thing is when PBOS 2.0 hits public and the media plays around with it and gets the thought 'well if this is any show of what BB10 is going to be...'.

    and congrats OP on 1K...i just hit 500 and was excited about that i cant imagine how 1K must feel
    Dapper37 likes this.
    02-11-12 07:37 AM
  19. CrackedBarry's Avatar
    The big thing is when PBOS 2.0 hits public and the media plays around with it and gets the thought 'well if this is any show of what BB10 is going to be...'.
    The thing is, that itll be really hard for RIM to get the media to play with it, let alone report on PB2.0. Heck it would be an uphill battle to get press coverage even without the ipad3 coming in March, as well as all the quadcore Android tablet being demonstrated at World Mobile Congress later this month, stealing the spotlight.

    On top of that, you have some carriers already EOLing the Playbook, without launching some new hardware I have a really hard time seeing RIM getting any coverage. The PB, whether deserved or not, is widely seen as not just a failure, but also as last years failure, outdated hardware and all.

    And I gotta say, its very worrying if he really sees the ability to update while watching a movie, as an interesting or important feature. It's that kind of disconnect with reality and what the market wants, that has led to the trouble that RIM is in. With an iPad you update it once or twice a year. All the Android tablets I've seen get updates more frequent than that, but you can keep working as it updates, besides the ten or so minutes it takes to reboot and do file system stuff. Nobody working on a tablet really cares about that kind of stuff, just like the backup issues he mentioned. It's been a few years since I had a BB, so I don't know if backups are still as cumbersome and timeconsuming as they used to be. But on an iPad all that stuff takes place automatically, in the background and get uploaded to the cloud. Thats where the market and consumers are right now, and it would be nice if RIM tried to move ahead where the market is, instead of trying to catch up.

    Some of the stuff demonstrated is moving in the right direction, but I just found this disconnect worrying. And not a word about something they SHOULD be addressing: Namely the fact that all the old BB apps need to be rewritten for the new operating system. What kind of tools and help is RIM providing for developers? If they're not on top of this, they risk that many of them will abandon the platform...
    02-11-12 08:09 AM
  20. Dapper37's Avatar
    ^Doomsday, its still Doomsday! Like one of my favorite posters said. You remind me of D I C K Chaney!
    Reports have shown that PlayBook Apps and development are trending upwords and faster than even the believers thought.
    Now with PB2.0 here and the pathway to BB10 in hand. There is a clear story line emerging, that will make it easy for RIM to get its word out. the difference between platforms is going to be a selling point for RIM. Do the customers want ios or a system made to be a clone of ios, or would they like an identity online, that can be given to them by only RIM.
    People like the comeback story as much as the fall.
    Last edited by Dapper37; 02-11-12 at 07:44 PM.
    02-11-12 07:39 PM
  21. monotok's Avatar
    The thing is, that itll be really hard for RIM to get the media to play with it, let alone report on PB2.0. Heck it would be an uphill battle to get press coverage even without the ipad3 coming in March, as well as all the quadcore Android tablet being demonstrated at World Mobile Congress later this month, stealing the spotlight.

    On top of that, you have some carriers already EOLing the Playbook, without launching some new hardware I have a really hard time seeing RIM getting any coverage. The PB, whether deserved or not, is widely seen as not just a failure, but also as last years failure, outdated hardware and all.

    And I gotta say, its very worrying if he really sees the ability to update while watching a movie, as an interesting or important feature. It's that kind of disconnect with reality and what the market wants, that has led to the trouble that RIM is in. With an iPad you update it once or twice a year. All the Android tablets I've seen get updates more frequent than that, but you can keep working as it updates, besides the ten or so minutes it takes to reboot and do file system stuff. Nobody working on a tablet really cares about that kind of stuff, just like the backup issues he mentioned. It's been a few years since I had a BB, so I don't know if backups are still as cumbersome and timeconsuming as they used to be. But on an iPad all that stuff takes place automatically, in the background and get uploaded to the cloud. Thats where the market and consumers are right now, and it would be nice if RIM tried to move ahead where the market is, instead of trying to catch up.

    Some of the stuff demonstrated is moving in the right direction, but I just found this disconnect worrying. And not a word about something they SHOULD be addressing: Namely the fact that all the old BB apps need to be rewritten for the new operating system. What kind of tools and help is RIM providing for developers? If they're not on top of this, they risk that many of them will abandon the platform...

    They are releasing new hardware and as it has HSPA+ then hopefully the carriers will push it as they can make money out of it with contracts etc
    02-12-12 06:23 AM
  22. awwa1203a's Avatar
    Enterprise security remains a cornerstone of the device.
    02-13-12 01:44 AM
  23. Rootbrian's Avatar
    Twice for a bowl full of rice with Blackberries and a playbook to sport the filming of the consumption of the rice from that bowl.

    Good thread.
    02-13-12 06:36 AM
  24. Blackberry_boffin's Avatar
    The thing is, that itll be really hard for RIM to get the media to play with it, let alone report on PB2.0. Heck it would be an uphill battle to get press coverage even without the ipad3 coming in March, as well as all the quadcore Android tablet being demonstrated at World Mobile Congress later this month, stealing the spotlight.

    On top of that, you have some carriers already EOLing the Playbook, without launching some new hardware I have a really hard time seeing RIM getting any coverage. The PB, whether deserved or not, is widely seen as not just a failure, but also as last years failure, outdated hardware and all.

    And I gotta say, its very worrying if he really sees the ability to update while watching a movie, as an interesting or important feature. It's that kind of disconnect with reality and what the market wants, that has led to the trouble that RIM is in. With an iPad you update it once or twice a year. All the Android tablets I've seen get updates more frequent than that, but you can keep working as it updates, besides the ten or so minutes it takes to reboot and do file system stuff. Nobody working on a tablet really cares about that kind of stuff, just like the backup issues he mentioned. It's been a few years since I had a BB, so I don't know if backups are still as cumbersome and timeconsuming as they used to be. But on an iPad all that stuff takes place automatically, in the background and get uploaded to the cloud. Thats where the market and consumers are right now, and it would be nice if RIM tried to move ahead where the market is, instead of trying to catch up.

    Some of the stuff demonstrated is moving in the right direction, but I just found this disconnect worrying. And not a word about something they SHOULD be addressing: Namely the fact that all the old BB apps need to be rewritten for the new operating system. What kind of tools and help is RIM providing for developers? If they're not on top of this, they risk that many of them will abandon the platform...
    The original article listed a lot of things and you still want to dwell all day on this alone? PB 2.0 is a major shift in many ways. THAT is just one of them.
    02-13-12 12:48 PM
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