By Dan Rowinski
During my time at 1105 Government Information Group, the device that has come to define my beat has been the BlackBerry PlayBook.
It is perfectly situated for a government technology news writer. It is from Research in Motion, which makes BlackBerry smart phones, which are pervasive in the government. It is part of the cool new wave of tablet PC technology. It is from a company that desperately needs a refreshing product. It has had tons of rumors since it was announced last fall. And it has the potential to be a very significant device or a complete dud, the product that starts RIM on a death spiral.
In short, from a government enterprise IT writer's perspective, it has been fascinating.
And it continues to be intriguing, now that it is four days from its official launch date of April 19.
Will the BlackBerry PlayBook score with feds?
It’s official: BlackBerry PlayBook will run Android apps
The PlayBook has been and probably will forever be a work in progress.
People wonder how Apple delivered the iPad as a game-changing finished tablet right off the bat last year and why the competition cannot seem to catch up. The thing about the iPad is that there is probably only one company in the world that could have pulled off tablet technology the way Apple did. It was a perfect storm of factors: CEO Steve Jobs’ obsession for decades with tablet computing, the remake of the company in the late 1990s (when Jobs came back) to focus on the uber-cool side of consumer tech, and the growing pains of the original iPod, which translated into the killer device known as the iPhone.
You could say that, more or less, Apple had been heading straight toward the iPad moment since 1984, with the last decade being a wildly successful crash course in how to create runaway product successes.
BlackBerry? Not so much. RIM went from PDAs to PDAs that did voice and e-mail securely and caught on in the C-suite before trickling down in the early to mid-2000s to the rest of the enterprise. For years, RIM’s innovations have been focused on security, the enterprise and communications — improved contacts, conferencing, BlackBerry Messaging etc. The trajectory that took Apple to the iPad is just not the same for RIM or any other of the up-and-coming tablet makers.
With regard to government, it was important for RIM to beat Hewlett-Packard’s WebOs TouchPad to the market. HP is No. 12 on the Washington Technology Top 100 list of federal contractors, and the company is very strong in enterprise. Traditionally, the companies have been operating in parallel, BlackBerry on the mobile computing side, HP on the laptop/desktop PC side. But when HP bought Palm in April 2010, it was a clear signal to RIM that the computer behemoth was coming for BlackBerry’s lunch.
The hope for BlackBerry is that certain missing features — initial lack of an application ecosystem, native e-mail, and apps for a calendar and contacts — do not become a sticking point for people, even if those features become available in a month or so. BlackBerry Bridge syncs a BlackBerry phone to the tablet and provides all of that functionality, and since the beginning, RIM has said “we have 55 million loyal customers. We think the PlayBook will be a hit with them.”
The reviews have been mixed on the PlayBook. A lot of people like a lot of things, especially the hardware — except for, oddly, the power button — and, from an enterprise perspective, BlackBerry Bridge.
Those who are more consumer-oriented find it to be a train wreck. Both sides have valid and distinct points. The hardware potential and the QNX operating system give the PlayBook one of the highest ceilings of all tablets. It will eventually be able to run BlackBerry and Android applications and, if it can run Android well on its virtual machine, can make Honeycomb tablets look foolish.
On the other hand, developing for the PlayBook is a giant pain in the butt. At CTIA in March, a lot of software developers said there is really no reason to develop for BlackBerry because the payoff just is not worth the trouble of dealing with QNX and all of RIM’s hoops that developers have to jump through — BlackBerry still takes security very seriously.
So it is fitting that the PlayBook is some of the big news right now. It is the device that ushered me in to Government Computer News and…it is the device that will usher me out.
Yes, "Mobile Platform" readers, this will be my last post. I am taking a job at technology blog "ReadWriteWeb" to write about consumer Web trends and applications. I will miss everybody at 1105 and am thankful for the opportunities I was afforded here. From talking with CIOs and CTOs of agencies and corporations to trolling about for applications to help the federal enterprise worker, it has been great, and I thank all of my editors and readers for sticking around. I will remember you.
And so, the final Dan’s Device of the Week: The BlackBerry PlayBook.
Posted on Apr 15, 2011 at 6:53 PM0 comments
Research firm Gartner released a report on April 11 that predicts Apple’s iPad tablet will dominate the tablet market for the next several years, holding a firm grasp on the landscape till at least 2015.
Color me tickled. Who woulda thunk?
Garnter is known for doing good research and analysis, but this seems kind of like stating the obvious. Or so you would think. Apple has the benefit of being first to market, has the most sophisticated device and has 10 years of developing an ecosystem (if you count the iPad’s predecessor, the iPod, which you should) for the iPad to flourish in once it was released. See CNET’s Donald Bell's excellent analysis on that topic, “What tablets can learn from the iPod wars.”
Gartner sees Apple holding onto at least 60 percent of the market until 2015, when the amalgamation of competition – BlackBerry, Hewlett-Packard and Android/Chrome – finally are able to muster enough mindshare to topple Apple’s market share. Even at that, Gartner thinks that of any single device, Apple will still keep the lead, with 47.1 percent.
The tablet landscape in 2015, according to Gartner:
- Apple – 47.1 percent
- Android – 38.6 percent
- QNX (BlackBerry) – 10 percent
- WebOs (Palm/HP) – 3 percent
- MeeGo – 1 percent
- Other - 0.2 percent
It is probably a fair conclusion to make on Gartner’s side. There is a lot of talk about other tablets coming to take Apple’s milk but little in the way of actual devices on the market. The way the market will play out in all likelihood is that the fans of certain technologies will be the early adopters of certain tablets – like BlackBerry and WebOS – and Android will have multiple options available from major players like Motorola, Samsung and HTC, but cut back on access to some of the minor device makers to avoid fragmentation.
This is all supposing that tablets actually will become ubiquitous devices, a la the laptop or smart phone. The numbers that Gartner predicts are staggering, with 294 million or so tablets being sold in 2015. Yet, outside of the iPad, which is the result of Apple working a little bit of its magic once again, there is no clear necessity in the marketplace for tablet devices. Personally, I think there will be, but 294 million is a big number. There is no doubt that tablet sales will grow, especially as countries around the world develop wireless infrastructures, but it is still hard to tell if tablets will be the go-to device, the way Gartner seems to be predicting.
There are other external factors to consider as well, all hard to predict. Technological leaps by the classic scenario of “two guys working in a garage in Palo Alto, Calif.” or an Android manufacturer suddenly making a device that is so slick and so intuitive that it makes an iPad look like a fraud. I could see these things happening.
For the most part, I only keep nominal track of predictions and analysis. Deloitte said there will be 15 million tablets sold in enterprise this year. A lot of pundits decried that as being low. It may actually be very high (Gartner predicts that around 69 million tablets will be sold in 2011). It is fun to prognosticate. Sports writers do it all the time and so do market watchers. Will they be right?
How about this: Shoot me a 3-D text message from your HP SuperPad or other snazzy tablet on April 12, 2015, and we can discuss it. All 294 million of you.
Posted on Apr 12, 2011 at 6:53 PM2 comments
I spend a fair amount of my time as a reporter on conference calls. Usually it will be me, a public relations wrangler and some type of company executive, most of the time in sales or marketing. Perhaps a couple of topic experts will be in the background somewhere as well.
It is not always easy for me to keep track of all the calls I have scheduled. My Microsoft Exchange e-mail account tends to overflow with various forms of nonsense, from our internal editorial pings when a story is filed to the mass of PR lists that I have somehow gotten onto, to pitches from companies I have no intention of covering, and so on. When I do schedule an interview, often the e-mail with the call-in number and bridge is buried in the deluge and I scramble to find it two minutes before I am supposed to be on the call.
Research in Motion wants to help prevent that scenario with a new free BlackBerry app the company is releasing today. So, in the spirit of trying to organize my work life, I have decided to give it the App Of The Week.What is it?
BlackBerry Mobile Conferencing is RIM's attempt to make joining a conference as painless as possible. The short of it is that if you add an event with conference call information to your calendar, it is integrated into the app, some when the call comes all you have to do is make one click to join. Calendar, call, click, done -- in theory.
The app will be available in the BlackBerry Beta Zone
and work with devices running BlackBerry OS 5.0 or higher.
Here are the primary functions of the app:
What is the buzz?
- Calendar integration: Links with your BlackBerry calendar to leverage one of BlackBerry’s core capabilities.
- One-click join function: Pop-up display that can dial you into the meeting without your having to remember or dial phone and access code combinations.
- Reconnecting: If you're inadvertently dropped from a conference call, the application allows you to reconnect with one click.
- Storage of dial-in numbers: When there are multiple phone numbers in the invitation for participants in different locations, the application is designed to choose the most appropriate number for you.
- Conference scheduling: Turn meetings invite into a conference call with a single click.
- Ability to protect your host codes: When sending conference call meeting invitations using conference profile information, participants see only the information they need to join the call.
At its core, RIM is an enterprise communications company. With BlackBerry Messenger, integrated e-mail support and sophisticated contact storage, RIM's strength is providing great communications experiences. Hence, making conference calls an easier experience is a no-brainer. It functions sort of like the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System that hooks through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server to provide public branch exchange. It offers PBX conference call capability, just through an app.Why does government care?
Mobile! BlackBerry! Conferencing! All the fun buzzwords that are attached to mobile use in the federal sphere apply.
If you have your phone after this weekend, this falls in to the category of “why not?” It is free, it is helpful and if it works, the type of functionality that you will eventually take for granted as part of the BlackBerry experience.Why do I care?
Well, if I was still using my BlackBerry Bold 9000 (which I do sometimes, as a backup to my Android), this would be right up my alley for the reasons stated above. I am a disorganized, digital-ink stained wretch. Make my life just a little easier and more organized and I am with you all the way.
Posted on Apr 08, 2011 at 11:03 AM1 comments