by Al Sacco

BlackBerry PlayBook Devs With App World Apps Get Free Tablets? Not So Fast…

Oct 26, 2010
MobileSmall and Medium Business

Reports that all AIR developers who create App-World-approved apps for the PlayBook will receive a free tablet may be inaccurate

UPDATE: I just heard back from RIM PR, and it looks as though the company is indeed going to give “qualifying” Adobe AIR developers who create applications for the BlackBerry PlayBook BEFORE the device’s official launch a free BlackBerry tablet. Of course, those developers will have to meet a number of requirements to qualify for the promotion.

From RIM:

“[P]lease be assured that this developer promotion is much broader than a contest. Further details about the promotion will be posted on our developer site as soon as possible, but the plan is to provide one free BlackBerry PlayBook to every registered vendor with an App World-approved AIR application that is available for the BlackBerry PlayBook prior to launch. The applications will need to meet the BlackBerry App World Vendor Guidelines and there will of course be some terms and conditions that are principally designed to prevent abuse of the promotion, but the intent is to reward developers who are working on apps in advance of the product launch.

That’s impressive if you ask me, and I give RIM credit where it’s due…though we’ll have to wait and see what exactly those unspecified “terms and conditions” will actually mean.


Research In Motion (RIM) Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis yesterday performed the first live demonstration of the much-anticipated BlackBerry PlayBook tablet running the new BlackBerry Tablet OS, while on-stage at Adobe’s MAX 2010 conference in Los Angeles. (Check out a video of Lazaridis’s entire demo.)

RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet

The RIM executive showed off a couple of enterprise-oriented applications built using an Adobe AIR SDK for PlayBook, including a app and some software for SAP customers. And Lazaridis touted the PlayBook’s multitasking abilities, browser and showed off some streaming HD video.

But the RIM co-CEO also dropped what was interpreted by many to be a major bombshell; toward the end of his appearance, Lazaridis stated: “If you write a new AIR application and it’s accepted to BlackBerry App World, you’ll be eligible for a free BlackBerry PlayBook.”

The key word being “eligible.”

Adobe MAX 2010 attendees quickly cheered the news. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch commented on how the announcement was a surprise to him. And a variety of bloggers and BlackBerry-watchers rapidly posted/tweeted/shared/etc. that all software developers who create a PlayBook app, using the new AIR SDK, that’s accepted into BlackBerry App World will receive a free BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

Only problem is, that sounds to good to be true…and it’s really not what Mr. Lazaridis said. Lazaridis probably should’ve provided some more details—people often go mad when they hear the word “free,” and I’m not at all surprised that his comments were interpreted the way that they were.

But the fact of the matter is that it’s still unclear whether any and all PlayBook AIR devs with accepted App World apps will receive free BlackBerry PlayBook tablets, or if they’ll simply be entered into some sort of contest to win one. My guess is the latter scenario.

I asked RIM for some clarification, which you’d think would be a fairly simple thing to get in return, but RIM PR doesn’t seem to want to give me a straight answer.

From RIM:

“RIM announced at Adobe MAX that developers who get qualified apps submitted to BlackBerry App World and approved to prior to launch will be first in line to receive a BlackBerry PlayBook from RIM. Stay tuned for more details.”

Two things jump out at me from this response: One, the lack of the word “free;” and two, the phrase “prior to launch.”

I’m guessing that RIM’s not giving me a clear response because it wasn’t planning on giving a free PlayBook to every AIR developer with an accepted App World app. And I suspect the company is now reacting to all the positive developer-response online, by seeing if it could possibly make this happen–or at least derive a damage-control strategy for explaining that Lazaridis’s comments were misinterpreted.

Interestingly, there’s also no mention of the “Free PlayBook” promotion anywhere on RIM’s site, at least that I’ve been able to locate, including the company’s developer-specific blog.

I contacted RIM again earlier today for further clarification, but I have not yet received a response. I’ll be sure to post any noteworthy information as soon as I receive it.

Until then, despite reports to the contrary, I wouldn’t count on getting a free BlackBerry PlayBook tablet just for creating an App-World-approved tablet app using the AIR SDK.


Al Sacco covers Mobile and Wireless for Follow Al on Twitter @ASacco. Follow everything from on Twitter @CIOonline. Email Al at