This Christmas my wife gave me a gift that was surprising: a BlackBerry Playbook. I was caught off-guard by this, because my wife does not follow technology at all. The Playbook was a risky gift for her to get me. She is completely out of her element with technology while I thrive in that particular space.
I probably would never have bought myself a Blackberry Playbook. RIM is a company that several analysts and technologists believe will go under any day now. I had a Blackberry phone for many years for work, and I am considerably happier with the Android phones that I have had since. If I was going to buy a smaller tablet for myself it would probably be the iPad mini. A Playbook? Not even on my list of maybes.
Yet there I was with this brand new Playbook and a concerned wife wondering if she had made a big mistake.
What else could I do but say thank you and start setting the device up? Thus came about the second surprise for me that day: I really like the Playbook’s interface! The touchscreen has a “frame” around the outer edges that does not include the visible screen, but that still responds to certain gestures. You can pull the file menu down for an app from the top frame, switch to another app by swiping either frame on the side, or pull up the home menu at anytime from the bottom frame. The more I used it the more I saw how elegant and simple the design was.
My introduction to the frame interface was great, but then the skeptic in me thought “But what about the apps?” Third surprise of the day: RIM includes an Android emulator in the Playbook OS. You can take an Android application and repackage it into a BAR file. Plenty of enthusiast have already repackaged many of my favorite Android apps. You then just sideload the application onto the Playbook. Not ideal, but an acceptable solution for my needs.
So I have this great techie toy now, and I mean that in a good way, but as much as I am enjoying my gift I have to be honest: The Playbook is doomed. The technology is pretty good, but the Playbook just is not being adopted by enough users. Android application developers are not taking advantage of the relative ease with which they can repackage their applications for the Playbook. It is not enough to have a good technology. What you need, and always have needed, is for the technology to be so appealing that the masses adopt it.
I am very happy with the gift that my wife gave me for Christmas this year. I just do not think that others are giving the Playbook a chance probably because of RIM’s reputation and not because of the technology.