RIM Updates PlayBook Tablet
October 3, 2012

RIM Updates PlayBook Tablet, But Will It Save Company?

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Good books inspire sequels, but the BlackBerry Playbook tablet actually wasn´t so much a best seller as a good first draft. Fortunately, unlike with novels, tablets can get updated.

“We are future proofing our products for our customers,” said Shaun Coghlan, senior product manager for BlackBerry PlayBook.

This week, Research in Motion updated its BlackBerry PlayBook via the 2.1 over-the-air download that brought a slew of new improvements. Important components of the update included new IT policies, over-the-air enrollment, certification management, full device encryption, and Print To Go across Wi-Fi networks, which shore up security issues and improve functionality. The update also includes support for SMS capabilities through BlackBerry Bridge, data encryption on personal accounts and even improved Android application support. This allows users to send, view and receive text messages when connected to a BlackBerry handset over Bluetooth. There is also new portrait orientation for messages, calendar and contracts.

In other words, features that should have been in the BlackBerry PlayBook when the device was first released. The question, however, is why this functionality has been missing, especially as BlackBerry´s reputation in the corporate space practically ensured that this would be a tablet businesses might have considered — something that has been no easy task as security has remained a concern.

“Over the last couple years the tablet business is a tough market to crack into,” said Jeff Kagan, telecommunications analyst at Jeff Kagan and Associates. “Apple iPad is successful, but even Google struggles with their Android tablets.”

The timing of this comes as RIM stock experiences a resurgence, suggesting that the beleaguered company could have its darkest days behind it.

“I was happy to see the uptick in RIM stock price. That means there could be life in the RIM tunnel,” added Kagan. “So when RIM launches Blackberry 10 next year, if it is successful, we could see the early stages of a recovery. But we won't really have a clue until Blackberry 10 is launched and we can read the marketplace for acceptance.”

The PlayBook update may just be allowing RIM to stand still until the next event in the company's development. “For now I think we are in a holding pattern. Don't let these little blips fool you,” Kagan emphasized. “I hope for the best with Blackberry. I like the company. I just have not seen signs of life in so long it is very disappointing.”

From BlackBerry's standpoint, the update addresses enterprise users. On the BlackBerry blog, a post by Luke Reimer reads, "This release brings with it many new features for business customers and IT administrators that make the tablet a seriously enterprise-ready device and a productivity powerhouse."

The update helps keep the BlackBerry and the PlayBook in play until the release of BlackBerry 10. "Combined with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and the coming BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, managing BlackBerry PlayBook tablets just got a whole lot more functional," Reimer's post says.

BlackBerry posted at least two entries on its blog, including the post from Reimer, urging PlayBook owners to update their tablets. Two posts make the update to 2.1 seem urgent from a security standpoint, and also for the company's wellbeing almost more than the tablet user's experience.