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Wednesday, 10 August 2011

2012: A New Lease of Life (for the PlayBook)

For most manufacturers of notebook computers and smartphones, 2011 has been the year of launching their first foray into tablets.  We've seen various players come in this year whether it be Motorola, Acer, ViewSonic, HTC, HP and BlackBerry.

Most brands have been playing catch up to Apple and most are still well behind (at Jacky's, Apple still has a 85% share in tablet category).

The main challenge most tablets have faced is that they don't run on iOS, which has been till today, probably the best tablet-based operating system.  Google has been promising a lot on Android and most manufacturers have been trying to bank on this but none has made the sort of inroads that Apple made initially.  The user experience doesn't quite compare to that of iOS and the biggest driver for a tablet is Apps, which are still sadly missing on Android's tablet-optimized OS called Honeycomb.

What are the alternatives then?  HP launched their WebOS based tablets in the US last month but have struggled.  Microsoft has been promising Windows based tablets but those will only come in 2012 when Windows 8 is out.  RIM has had their BlackBerry PlayBook out which works on a wonderfully designed QNX-based operating system but has struggled to gain overall acceptance due to the dearth of Apps and lack of an e-mail client.

Hopefully 2012 means boom not gloom
for RIM's QNX-based devices.
There was therefore good news this week for BlackBerry fans when rumours emerged of a QNX-based BlackBerry smartphone that could be out in 2012 (click here for more info).  Why is this good news?  Well, it means RIM could put their hat back in the tablet race and do a credible job this time around.  They've got a fantastic product (as was reviewed by us earlier - click here for the review), but it's struggled because it didn't have the Apps.  For Apps to be exist, an App developer has to justify it financially and from a resource perspective.  If the audience for a particular OS grows, then it means there are more opportunities for it to gain a critical mass and become more interesting for an App developer.  The scenario could change in 2012 for RIM with QNX-based tablets and smartphones.

Right now, the PlayBook misses out because it doesn't have basic Apps yet like a native Twitter client or a game like Angry Birds (though this has been promised by RIM).  Hopefully, the stories of a QNX-based smartphone are true and hopefully we see Apple facing some real competition next year because honestly, it's about time someone else started challenging them.

Posted By: Ashish Panjabi, Chief Operating Officer, Jacky's Electronics