February 14, 2011, 5:00 PM — The BlackBerry PlayBook is nearing its final build with fully working tablets on public show at Mobile World Congress and one stand representative going so far as to refer to a PlayBook as "my own". All that's left, we're told, is battery optimisation - something that's actively being worked on.
At Mobile World Congress today RIM announced two new PlayBook models to add to the previously announced WiMax and LTE BlackBerry tablets. By the end of this year there will be four PlayBooks on offer globally, the first being a WiMax-enabled model launching on the Sprint network in the US this summer. The remaining three tablets will launch worldwide in the second half of the year.
The PlayBook will be important in driving innovation, RIM's UK managing director Stephen Bates told PC Advisor in an exclusive interview. He believes the 7in-screen PlayBook tablet is set for a similar success as the BlackBerry handsets with which it is intrinsically linked. More BlackBerry handsets were sold in the last financial quarter in the UK than any other brand.
Bates describes the current BlackBerry user base as "an easy win for us". RIM sold 130 million BlackBerry units last year and has 33 million BlackBerry Messenger users. Some 12% of its global revenue derives from the UK, so it's no surprise to hear RIM describe the UK as "a priority market".
However, the PlayBook will not play nicely with other smartphones. A BlackBerry handset will be required in order to access corporate email from the PlayBook, though Hotmail, Gmail and other webmail accounts will be accessible via the tablet's browser.
BlackBerry PlayBook hands-on