June 13, 2012

January 5, 2011

I can’t even believe this is right.  For the Playbook’s email and calendar to work you need to be connected to a Blackberry?!

The question is: Who, besides BlackBerry users, is going to want to buy it? The core email and calendar apps are completely tethered to a BlackBerry. Without your BlackBerry, there is no native email or calendar app—just access through the (admittedly good) web browser.

That reminds me of the Palm Foleo strategy.  Never heard of it?  Yep, that good.

There isn’t a survey out there that has the BlackBerry gaining market share, so why tie (anchor?) your new product, which has plenty of positive attributes, to a sinking ship?  You immediately cut out 75% of your market (and growing).  Delusional. expand full story

November 9, 2010

According to Business Week, BlackBerry’s iPad-competitor, PlayBook, will cost less than $500, making it priced very aggressively against the iPad. Ever since the PlayBook’s introduction in late September it has been dubbed a potential iPad killer. The tablet features a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM and has two cameras (front and back). The device features a high-resolution 7 inch screen making it DOA since it apparently won’t include an accessory to shrink its user’s fingers.

Still, BlackBerry’s Playbook is an enticing offering with its fantastic technical specifications, dual cameras, portability, great operating system, and of course the token BlackBerry e-mail client and enterprise integration. RIM’s CEO, Jim Balsillie reportedly said:

“The product will be very competitively priced,” and when asked whether it will be about $500, Balsillie said “no, it will be under that.”

Apple’s iPad starts at $499 for the base model that includes WiFi and 16 GB of flash-based storage. When RIM’s CEO was asked if his tablet would be under $500 he could very well mean $499 or something in the $399 to $479 range. If RIM placed their entry PlayBook into the market at $399 that would surely give the iPad a run for its money. Only time will tell how well the BlackBerry PlayBook does but we think many will agree the PlayBook could make a nice dent into the tablet market with a sub-$500 pricing point.

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November 16, 2010

Where can I get one of these Playbooks? The iPad has been out since March and will likely be updated before I can buy the Blackberry device. (via Fortune) expand full story

September 14, 2011

UPDATE [Friday, September 16, 2011 at 7:50am ET]: RIM just reported quarterly earnings. They shipped 200,000 PlayBooks, barely half the figure analysts projected. That means that sales ratio to iPad is 1:46, not 1:19. Shares slumped 20 percent on the news, Financial Times reports.

We’ve suspected Research In Motion’s seven-inch BlackBerry PlayBook tablet may have been met with muted response from the iPad-maddened fans of technology. Bloomberg polled a group of analysts and concluded that RIM during last quarter may have shipped just one PlayBook for every nineteen iPads. Apple during the June quarter shipped 9.25 million iPad. iPad sales surged following the somewhat subdued shipments of 4.69 million units in the March quarter, when the company had begun winding down production of the original iPad ahead of the iPad 2 launch.

As for the PlayBook, RIM is set to report quarterly earnings tomorrow so Bloomberg’s comparison is a bit unfair because it draws conclusions from analysts’ estimates, who we know often miss the mark. There’s also that crucial difference between shipping and actually selling something to end users. Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley forecasts 1.5 million PlayBooks in this calendar year versus 39.2 million iPads and seven million Samsung tablets.

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April 14, 2011

A bunch of PlayBook reviews hit the web today. It’s the first branded slate to match Apple’s $499 pricing on the low-end plus it comes with RIM’s signature corporate security features, a speedy dual-core processor and brand new QNX operating system that has the polish and shininess to it. So what’s the verdict? PlayBook has a huge disadvantage in the software department, says David Pogue from The New York Times:

Remember, the primary competition is an iPad — the same price, but much thinner, much bigger screen and a library of 300,000 apps. In that light, does it make sense to buy a fledgling tablet with no built-in e-mail or calendar, no cellular connection, no videochat, Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds? You should also know that even now, only days before the PlayBook goes on sale April 19, the software is buggy and still undergoing feverish daily revision. And the all-important BlackBerry Bridge feature is still in beta testing. It’s missing important features, like the ability to view e-mail file attachments or click a link in an e-mail.

The Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg also dissed the PlayBook over the lack of software. He called it “a tablet with a case of dependency” and added this:

Unlike the iPad, which can run almost all of the 350,000 iPhone apps, the PlayBook can’t run any of the 27,000 BlackBerry apps. It will launch with only about 3,000 apps designed for tablets, compared with 65,000 tablet-optimized iPad apps.

And another quote from Wired about PlayBook’s lackluster Flash support:

During a round of Plants vs. Zombies, gameplay bogged down whenever the animation got intense. Every time I tried to access a Flash game on Facebook, the browser crashed. Yes, every single time. Say goodbye to your well-tended crops, Farmvillians. Another glaring flaw is the PlayBook’s complete lack of native e-mail, contacts and calendar apps. Want those apps? Log on to your Gmail account with the browser. RIM’s WebKit-based browser is about as stable as your bipolar uncle. App ecosystem is lacking. You’ll need to install a driver before you can connect it to your PC or Mac.

Other publications came to similar conclusions, including Engadget, Gizmodo, Bloomberg, TechCrunch and others. Read on…
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March 24, 2011

OK, just kidding.  But the Playbook just got priced.  And it runs Android Apps.

Research In Motion announced the BlackBery PlayBook tablet with great fanfare seven months ago. Company executives have been mum on its exact pricing all this time, except vague hints that the gizmo will price-match Apple’s tablet. With the beefier iPad 2 now making rounds at the same starting price of $499 and with Samsung’s rival Galaxy Tab adjusting itself to the pricing pressure from Cupertino, RIM has officially joined the fray by price-matching the iPad.

The PlayBook costs $499/$599/$699 for the 16/32/64GB WiFi model, the same as iPad 2. Best Buy is now taking pre-orders for the device as we speak.

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December 17, 2010

Research In Motion’s in the news today: not only is its iPad-killing PlayBook delayed until around the time iPad 2.0 is expected to ship, but Mac users with a BlackBerry can now download the latest desktop connection kit. Meanwhile the company’s financial results were alright but nothing supercalifragilistic.

By the numbers then: expand full story

November 17, 2010

RIM CEO Jim Balsillie used a speech at Web 2.0 to issue one of his company’s attacks on Apple, saying, “You don’t need an app for the Web’.

Some may recall Apple CEO Steve Jobs in 2007 who said the future for app development on the iPhone rested with the Web. He faced a hail of criticism, Apple changed tack and launched the App Store, and the rest is history. expand full story


September 27, 2010

RIM has announced its own iPad killer, dubbed the PlayBook, which the company describes as a tablet with an enterprise focus — however, in an unexpected Canadian blow, all 18 Saskatchewan Party cabinet ministers and five senior officials have been issued iPads. expand full story

March 29, 2012

January 16, 2012

Source: IDG

Research firm IDG on Monday published a new survey called “iPad for Business 2012,” showing that the iPad is anything but a fad as far as big business is concerned. The global survey, available as a downloadable PDF document, noted that 91 percent of businesses that deployed iPads are using the device primarily for work, even if only approximately a quarter of issued devices were supplied as a corporate tool. Consumers and pros alike both use the device for media consumption, which in the case of the latter is predominantly text-based and work-related.

IT and business professionals certainly use their iPads at home. But unlike most consumers, they also use their devices in a similarly intensive way at work. In a further, decisive, break with consumer usage patterns, IT and business professionals use their devices on the road far more frequently than anywhere else.

Some 79 percent of IT professionals “always” use the iPads on the move and 59 percent “always” or “sometimes” use the device in offline mode. Road use usually entails planes, trains, automobiles, hotel lobbies, coffee shops, conference halls and meeting rooms, IDG noted, even though only 40 percent of iPads sold incorporate 3G connectivity.

More than three-quarters of polled workers use the iPads to browse the web, and 76 percent of pros said they “always” use iPads to read content. Meanwhile, 73 percent opted for news consumption and more than half— or 54 percent— use it for work communication. Some 79 percent tap into the iPad on the move and 54 percent use it at home. Social media, personal communication and entertainment follow with 44 percent, 42 percent and 31 percent, respectively.

Corporate iPads rarely supplant notebooks, though:

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November 29, 2011

A Windows 8 tablet mockup

If you believe today’s Forrester Research report, a Window of opportunity is closing fast as customers are losing interest in the forthcoming Windows 8-powered tablets. Microsoft on its part previewed Windows 8 two months ago and won praise for its touch interface. To be perfectly honest, the UI does look nice and interesting and support for ARM/x86 architectures and app market makes it better suited to compete in the post-PC era. But timing is everything and “Windows 8 is going to be very late to the party”, Forrester argued. Here’s the gist of their report:

For tablets, though, Windows really isn’t a fast follower. Rather it’s (at best) a fifth-mover after iPad, Android tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, HP’s now-defunct webOS tablet, and the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. While Windows’ product strategists can learn from these products, other players have come a long way in executing and refining their products — Apple, Samsung, and others have already launched second-generation products and will likely be into their third generation by the time Windows 8 launches. Meanwhile, newer competitors like Amazon (Kindle Fire) and Barnes & Noble (Nook Tablet) are reshaping consumer expectations in the market, driving down price points (and concomitant price expectations), and redefining what a tablet is.

Interestingly, Microsoft has a web tool that, when accessed on one’s iOS or Android device, lets one run an emulation of Windows Phone 7. In what some might dub a sign of desperation, Microsoft is reportedly readying a version of the Office suite for iPad – an ironic move, really, as they didn’t even announce Office apps tailored for Windows 8 tablets.

Announcing Windows 8 well ahead of the promised late-2012 release may have backfired as the excitement surrounding Windows 8 tablets wore off and competitors like Apple and Google can close any perceived advantages. In the first quarter, 46 percent of U.S. consumers yearned for a Windows tablet, Forrester noted (your chart goes right after the break). Last quarter, consumer interest plummeted to just 25 percent. Apple went from 16 percent to 28 percent and Google from 9 percent to 18 percent. But even though more people yearned for a Windows tablet than an Android one, Forrester notes:

Microsoft has missed the peak of consumer desire for a product they haven’t yet released.

Of course, gauging demand for an unreleased product can be misleading and even Forrester analysts were forced to change their ideas of how the market works when early iPad sales caught everyone flabbergasted. On the other hand, we do know Windows 8 tablets won’t ship in volume before this time next year. And herein lies the problem…

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November 16, 2011

With the $199 Kindle Fire out of the gate, the inevitable questions pops into mind: Which is faster overall, the Amazon or Apple tablet?

The comparison isn’t really fair because Amazon skimped on internal components, which was key to its breakthrough $199 price point. An iFixit teardown reveals Texas Instruments’ OMAP 4430 chip inside the device, also  found inside Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.

For starters, iPad 2 boots much quicker than the Amazon tablet – again, due to its more efficient dual-core processor and optimized software. Browsing the web? No surprises here either, Safari on iPad 2 stormed ahead, performing noticeably faster than Amazon’s Silk browser which offloads page rendering to the Amazon cloud. One thing to remember: In this test, Kindle Fire was loading Flash content which of course is not supported on Apple’s device.

The iPad 2’s graphics unit, praised for its nine times performance jump, helps with scrolling, which is pretty choppy most of the time on Amazon’s device. One surprising finding is that Kindle Fire streams Netflix smoother than iPad 2, most likely due to the new version of their Android client which is not yet available for Apple’s platform.

This is not the most scientific test in the world, mind you. Again, as 9to5Google noted in its quick review, there’s really no comparing Kindle Fire to iPad 2, be it on the price, overall polish, performance or shininess. As for the speed, mainstream buyers may not be interested in raw specs anymore and Amazon has priced this thing out of the range of the Samsungs and BlackBerrys of this world so it’s more of a competitor to Android tablets than to Apple.

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October 7, 2011

Android apps running on your iPad? Alien Dalvik makes it possible.

In case you’re not familiar with Alien Dalvik, it’s a port of the Dalvik virtual machine, which is the software layer in Google’s Android operating system responsible for executing Android apps. According to SlashGear, the Myriad Group (the brains behind the Alien Dalvik project) announced support for Apple’s iPad in Alien Dalvik version 2.0.

As a result, the unimaginable (even unholy) becomes possible: You’ll be able to download, install and run Android software on your Apple-branded tablet. Alien Dalvik wraps each Android app file in its own virtual machine so it kinda feels as if you were running a native iPad app. The Myriad Group explains:

From a user perspective, Alien Dalvik 2.0 is completely transparent and installed without user disruption. Users simply enjoy the same rich Android ecosystem they have become accustomed to via mobile on other key screens, such as playing Angry Birds on HDTV. This all while gaining faster access to a wider range of apps, thus encouraging a higher frequency of downloads and increased ARPU.

We assume performance isn’t comparable to the experience of running native iOS apps on an iPad 2 and we’re surely expecting some hiccups and likely compatibility issues. With that in mind, this development begs the question: Why would you want to run Android apps on your iPad?

Apple’s iOS software boss Scott Forstall said at Monday’s iPhone 4S introduction that about 140,000 out of the 500,000 apps available on the App Store have been specifically created with iPad in mind. Android apps also aren’t as pretty or delightful as their iOS counterparts. But the fact that most are either free or ad-supported should mean something so we expect some folks will give Alien Dalvik a try. Stay tuned as the team promised to show off Alien Dalvik 2.0 running third-party Android apps on iPad 2 at CTIA 2011 next week.
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September 16, 2011

“Is 2011 going to be the year of copycats?”, Apple’s then chief executive rhetorically asked at the March iPad 2 introduction in San Francisco. Really, the title of this article couldn’t be more true. iPad is now stealing market share from Android, climbing from 65.7 percent share to 68.3 percent globally as Android slipped from 34.0 percent to 26.8 percent. HP exited the game, having retired its TouchPad and today lackluster sales of RIM’s PlayBook tablet made the news.

Apple decimated competition so thoroughly that analysts are saying the company can take its time releasing a third-generation iPad. According to J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz, Apple should be in “no rush” with iPad 3:

Our latest research continues to indicate that there is no such device slated for production this year. In our view, Apple should be in no rush. The other tablet entrants have stumbled so far, and that trend-line could persist deep into 2012.

He also wasn’t impressed by Sony’s tablet which “lacks the refined, sleek feel of the iPad and its bezel-like back is not user-friendly”. And Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet? On a downward spiral and probably due for life support. Per RIM’s quarterly filing, they shipped only 200,000 PlayBooks in the quarter, a paltry number compared to Wall Street expectations of 700,000 units. RIM refused to reveal actual sell-through as it is no doubt significantly lower than the sell-in. Ticonderoga analyst Brian White weighs in:

We believe the PlayBook is poised to follow HP’s TouchPad as the next casualty of iPad’s tablet dominance

To put PlayBook sales into perspective, RIM shipped one PlayBook to every 46 iPads. With just 200,000 units, PlayBook may very well be heading to the technology graveyard. BlackBerry phones are also shrinking due to “lower than expected sales for older models”. One fifth of RIM’s stock valuation was wiped out today as a result of poor tablet and smartphone performance. By the way, RIM’s global market share is now dropping to single digits. Did the Waterloo, Ontario company learn a valuable lesson?

Many watchers have written off the PlayBook, but RIM has bigger worries on its mind: Its smartphone business is declining and global market share dropping to single digits. Chart courtesy of Asymco.

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September 14, 2011

IDC has just released their second quarter results for tablet and eReader shipments as well as an updated forecast for the remainder of 2011. While Apple continued to dominate with 68.3% of the global market during Q2, IDC expects Apple’s share to fall as vendors bring competitive Android devices to market later this year and early next.

The study reports second quarter tablet shipments worldwide increased 88.9% (303.8% year over year) citing robust demand for the iPad 2 and sales of 9.3 million units, leading the firm to raise its estimates for the remainder of 2011 from 53.5 million units to 62.5 million.

From the report:

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August 10, 2011

Screenshot of web app courtesy of @drbuk

As reported by TechCrunch, Amazon has released a new Kindle Cloud Reader service. The service allows users of both Macs and PCs running either Safari or Google Chrome to read their Kindle books online. Better yet, the service works on iPad’s Mobile Safari. A feature that owners of WiFi-only iPads will enjoy is page caching for offline reading.

Notably, this is a great solution for Amazon to work around Apple’s in-app-purchase requirements for applications that offer purchases. In fact, what better way to spur Web innovation than to force people out of the store?  Good job Apple!

Full Press release follows:

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July 21, 2011

British monthly Tomorrow’s Technology Today, better known as T3, which specializes in gadgets, gizmos and other technology, is out today with its shortlist of technology products, brands and personalities for 2011. T3 Gadget Awards, one of the biggest tech awards in the UK informally recognized as the “technology Oscars”, already has over 350,000 user votes.

A strong Apple showing is evident, with some interesting Apple vs. Google battles shaping up. The Cupertino, California-based consumer electronics powerhouse has fifteen nominations, only trumped by eighteen nods for Google and its Android operating system. Samsung comes in third with eight spots on the shortlist, while Sony picks up six.

Kieran Alger, editor of T3.com, comments for 9to5Mac:

Despite a harder year than they’re used to Apple’s success continues with a strong showing across a number of categories. For one brand to secure 15 nominations out of 126 in the finals of the T3 Gadget Awards 2011 is no mean feat and testament to the continuing competitiveness of Apple’s latest products.

Apple’s iPad 2 and iPhone 4 face off Amazon’s Kindle and Samsung’s seven-inch Galaxy Tab for the Commuter Gadget of the Year award. With its commanding market share lead, iPad 2 is also battling Motorola’s Xoom, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab, Asus’s Eee Pad Transformer and LG’s Optimus Pad in the Tablet of the Year category. The gizmo is also challenging the dominance of Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s 3DS consoles, as well as Microsoft’s Kinect Sony’s PlayStation Move motion controllers in the Gaming Gadget of the Year category.

In all, iPad 2 is up for six gongs total, including overall Gadget of the Year. There is plenty of time to vote up your favorites at the official website – the winners will be announced at the star-studded awards ceremony at Old Billingsgate, London on Monday, October 10. The full list of entrants and award categories is right past the break.

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Research firm Strategy Analytics discovers that shipments of Android-driven tablets are finally beginning to make a meaningful impact on the overall tablet market. Yes, Android slates are making their presence known, even though iPad is still king of the hill. According to the research firm’s survey, June quarter tablet shipments topped 15.1 million units, a material increase over the 3.5 million units from the year-ago period. Apple seized the #1 slot with 9.25 million iPads the company reported for the June quarter, representing a 61.3 percent share of the tablet market overall.

At the same time, Android tablets have gone from 2.9 percent market share in June 2010 to 30.1 percent in June 2011, a surprising 27.2 percentage points increase based on sales of 4.55 million units. In the year-ago quarter Apple enjoyed a 94 percent share, so iPad’s 33 percentage points drop is substantial no matter how you look at it. GSM Arena observes that “in terms of market share, the iOS lead in the past quarter is nearly three times smaller than it was in the same period of last year”. Granted, the change in market dynamics isn’t surprising at all…

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