The Biggest Surprise of CES

Illustration for article titled The Biggest Surprise of CES

Wait, is this right? RIM's update to its PlayBook OS is actually good? High fives are currently flying in meetings across North America.

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And it's not just that PlayBook's finally going to have native email and calendar support. That's a great first step, but it's also just smooth and attractive and usable. There's a better keyboard with text prediction, easier text formatting, and an updated contact management system that incorporates your Twitter and LinkedIn information. The update should be available in February. Who knows if that's too late, but it's definitely not too little.

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Well played BlackBerry. Well played. [BlackBerry]

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DISCUSSION

This is a nice turn of events but I don't think it will matter. To compete with the big boys, a tablet needs:

1. The basics (calendar, email, web, and a smooth glitch-free experience).

2. An ecosystem (apps, movies, music, and books) and these better be high quality and very easy to buy and use.

3. Brand momentum (the average consumer gives a shit about the brand, and it comes up in conversations when someone is talking about getting a tablet).

This week RIM just finished completing Item 1, apparently. Item 2 is partially there but is shit. Item 3, well... the Playbook comes up in conversations all right, but not in a positive way. It's quite the opposite.

Now if RIM wants to keep selling Playbooks at fire sale prices, then they can afford to fall short on some of these items. But something tells me the fire sale was a temporary measure to clear warehouses and build customer base. I don't expect RIM can go the Amazon route because they have no way to make up the losses.