Mar 19, 2012
The inspiration from this article comes from a non-Android source, in a sense. The BlackBerry Playbook, RIM’s much-maligned seven-inch tablet, is a device I recently got my hands on for free. This was at a perfect time too: the update enabling Android apps to run on the OS was released.
It’s perfect for RIM too, as the problem with the Playbook is quite frankly that there are just no apps with it. No official Twitter app. No official Dropbox app. No official Skype app. It’s a repetitive story with pretty much every major service out there, minus Facebook. It’s got all the terrible apps of the other app stores, but few of the good ones.
The gaming market on the BlackBerry App World is improving though: EA and Gameloft have a solid presence on there, the fantastic Super Crossfire is available, and with more cross-platform tools, the potential for more games to jump from iOS to Android to the Playbook is definitely there.
However, the glaring fault is still that it’s not an Android device. It’s pretty much just running Android apps as an emulation layer, and the startup time on them is much longer compared to native apps. However, if they can get developers to port their apps for the device (BlackBerry had boxes and boxes of the tablets to give away at Game Developers Conference this year) then they may just have a chance. It’s a capable piece of hardware – well-constructed, has 1GB of RAM, 1080p video output, solid front and rear cameras, and the touch bezel technology for switching between apps and calling up menus is useful and innovative.
This whole saga with the $199 Playbook is why I am both optimistic about the potential of a Google Nexus tablet, and skeptical. I am optimistic because the potential for a low-cost Nexus device, with stock Android and a price that may dip as low as $149, with all the apps from Google Play, is very high. The potential lack of a Tegra 3, which would have made it a veritable gaming beast, is disappointing.
I am skeptical because the success of the Nook and Kindle tablets have been as much marketing from the retailers, having them at their storefronts both real and virtual, than it has been price. There are a myriad of reasons why the Playbook hasn’t taken off quite yet even at a $199 price, and the stigma of being attached to the BlackBerry name doesn’t help it. A Google tablet might not have on name and concept alone the kind of cachet that even the Kindle Fire has. It’s counterintuitive because Android is Google’s OS, but will just the Nexus branding sell people on the tablet?
I don’t think that just putting Android software on a low-priced tablet is the key to success. It takes more than that, and even if RIM is successful in getting Android developers on their platform, and if Google does launch that Nexus tablet, it won’t mean guaranteed success at all.