The Playbook feels like a lab experiment masquerading as a commercial ready product.
Has RIM has lost its edge?
Since the humble beginnings in a shopping center, I’ve known the Co-CEO’s and many of the hard working folks at RIM to be driven innovators, rule breakers and very passionate about building a great product.
RIM was always forward looking. Even the debate on OS’s and touchscreens date back to at least the winter of 2000 when the r950 device was still being held together with rubber bands.
User interfaces, long battery life, efficient use of bandwidth, security and reliability are traits that received the most attention in research, product design and RIM’s acquisitions strategies. RIM was a company that was driven to perfection. The company had an edge.
RIM remains a rule breaker today. The problem is, RIM is breaking the wrong rules – its own.
Today’s release of the Playbook is a good example. I’ve had time with the product on several occasions during its ramp up to the official launch today. Even a month ago at CTIA, the device crashing a lot frustrated people who were demoing the Playbook. What is driving RIM to release a product that feels unreliable, has mediocre battery life (at best) and that lacks table stake features like a native personal information management (PIM) client suite is just unimaginable to me.
To be sure the Playbook has some redeeming traits: its feels good to hold, the screen is great, the touch interface is quite sensitive and most of the time it’s fast. In the long term, the industry will probably view RIM’s Playbook as the first credible 7in tablet. But the product still needs quite a lot of work.
Five years ago we would never have seen such a product release from RIM.
RIM is stuck, it seems, in an innovators dilemma that began with the first Storm handset and continues today with the Playbook. I suspect it’s the Apple affect. These half baked solutions seem to start around the launch of the iPhone. RIM needs to stop chasing Apple and get back to what is has done best. Define new category devices and experiences – and do it well. And I really don’t want to hear about international expansion at the expense of North America growth. Nokia is already the poster child for that inept strategy…