January 14, 2011, 10:59 AM — BOSTON -- The BlackBerry PlayBook, initially being sold with Wi-Fi, will allow tethering to a BlackBerry smartphone, giving users access to the smartphone's cellular network and all the calendar, messaging and Web-browsing features running on the smartphone, RIM officials said Thursday.
Also, if the user's BlackBerry smartphone (and PlayBook through Bluetooth) are connected to a BlackBerry Enterprise Server run by a particular business, then the company's IT shop will be able to set controls on the way tethering works, RIM officials explained at an event here.
The 7-in. tablet will ship in North America in the first quarter, and pricing has not been announced. While the PlayBook was demonstrated at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, the tethering features have not been widely publicized, said Ryan Bidan, senior product manager for PlayBook at RIM.
Bidan said IT managers using BES would be able to control how long information is cached on a PlayBook, including sensitive contact information that a company wants to protect. When the PlayBook is out of range of the BlackBerry smartphone , the cache could be set to immediately deplete any data on the PlayBook. By contrast, IT could dictate that the data can remain for hours, days or even weeks, Bidan said.
The PlayBook includes software called BlackBerry Bridge that makes tethering with the BlackBerry smartphone possible, Bidan explained. Bridge also allows pass-throughs of IT commands from BES. For reading e-mail from the smartphone over the PlayBook connected via Bluetooth and Bridge, "interacting is real-time with BlackBerry [smartphone], and as an e-mail is read, the icon will turn to red" on the PlayBook, Bidan said.