UPDATE 2: RIM has confirmed the removal of PlayBook OS v 126.96.36.19950, due to issues with BlackBerry Bridge. The company said via Twitter that it plans to release another update "later this week."
UPDATE 1: As of 3 PM EST today, the update to BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet OS v 188.8.131.5250 is no longer available via PlayBook OTA update, suggesting that RIM has removed the release. The move could be related to a number of issues reported by early users, many of which appear to be BlackBerry Bridge related.
Every time BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) releases a new PlayBook Tablet OS update, as it did this morning, I frustratingly watch various CrackBerry addicts and gadget geeks cheer for joy on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other online venues. Many headlines announcing the new PlayBook OS updates on BlackBerry fanboy sites even include exclamation points to help express the writers' excitement.
But I don't feel any elation at these mostly insignificant releases. Instead, I feel disappointment…and a bit of resentment toward RIM. Here's why.
I genuinely believe that the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has a ton of potential. I love its size, build quality, and OS, among other things. But almost four months after its initial release, RIM's tablet still feels half baked. In an iPad-dominated world where user experience is King, a half-baked tablet just won't cut it.
RIM is learning this lesson the hard way.
Let's take a look at the new "features and enhancements" included in today's BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet OS, v 184.108.40.20650, according to CrackBerry.com:
Improved connectivity & productivity with the BlackBerry Bridge application
- Enhanced Support for Saving Attachments
- ZIP Attachment Support
Additional Multimedia Features
- Portrait Support in Pictures App
- Pinch to Zoom in Video App
Additional Language Support
That's all fine and good. But what about the !@#$%^ native e-mail and personal information management (PIM) apps RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie promised would arrive weeks ago? Or, dare I say it, a cellular version of the PlayBook, which was also originally due for a summer release, but has since been bumped to "sometime this year?" I guess we're just supposed to wait patiently until these features arrive, and then be thankful we got them at all…
As is, the PlayBook feels a bit like the body of a shiny new Mercedes, ready to hit the road hard…but stuck up on the lift without any tires.
The ongoing lack of native e-mail bothers me the most. That's partially because I wrote a post shortly after the PlayBook's release defending RIM's decision to ship the PlayBook without native e-mail and PIM, and I now feel like a bit of heel since RIM still hasn't released native e-mail. My past post explained that BlackBerry Bridge, the application that's supposed to make up for the lack of native e-mail and PIM by connecting your BlackBerry smartphone and tablet, was a decent stopgap solution. And that native e-mail and PIM would arrive soon after the tablet's release, so the situation really wasn't a big deal.
RIM's inability to get native e-mail and PIM into the hands of its PlayBook users proved me wrong, especially when you consider that Bridge simply doesn't work all that well, at least in my experience. (I've had countless issues with BlackBerry Bridge since I first installed it last April—it crashes constantly, takes forever to load and frequently does not display all the messages in my inbox, etc.—but I will say that some PlayBook users report better luck with Bridge.)