RIM's PlayBook: A Case of Bad Timing?

About: BlackBerry Ltd. (BB)
by: Larry Dignan

Research in Motion’s PlayBook is far from being ready for primetime, but the biggest problem for the tablet will be timing.

RIM’s developer powwow on Wednesday illustrated a lot of shortcomings. Developer kits will arrive in January and February and BlackBerry’s apps aren’t likely to be readily available at launch. In the early going the PlayBook is all about Adobe AIR, which leaves its Java-oriented developers on the outside. And then there’s the fact that you’ll need a BlackBerry to tether to the PlayBook to get enterprise email. Should you really have to connect a BlackBerry to a PlayBook?

Toss in the reality that the PlayBook is largely demoware and you have more than a few issues to ponder.

But the real reason to fret about the PlayBook’s prospects boils down to timing. The PlayBook is likely to be available just as the second generation iPad hits the market along with more Android tablets, which will feature the latest mobile operating system from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG).

Simply put, the PlayBook is launching into fierce competition and there are enough question marks about the tablet to fall on the pessimistic side.

Sure, there are interesting demos to watch. But these demos are seriously canned. Boy Genius Report shows off one. If you were one of the developers to grab the PlayBook it wasn’t like you could click on any random icon.

If the PlayBook could hit the market earlier it would garner more developer interest and perhaps find a more receptive audience. For now there are way too many parts that need to fall into place.

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