Ah we had such great hopes for Research in Motion. They - like Apple - were the only company that could have a complete product in market for the holidays and unlike Apple theirs could appeal to both businesses and consumers potentially going where the iPad could not.
The name that was floated was the BlackPad which conveyed the connection to the Blackberry line and sounded both business and consumer friendly.
And instead they launched the PlayBook with no branding connection to Blackberry and a shipment date that missed the holiday selling season by about a quarter.
Great, they will have a lame named product months after anyone shopping today will care about it they could have phoned this announcement in and would have been better off waiting until the product was ready and likely should fire whoever named it.
Let’s talk about the PlayBook.
One of the things you learn about naming is that you never ever want to do it yourself. This is because there is only one constant rule and that is that the only thing everyone will agree on when it comes to a new name is that the person who came up with it is an idiot.
This is because of the approvals, country research, and executive opinions you have to wade through pretty much mean you are going to end up with crap and RIM didn’t disappoint.
However, Apple did maintain family consistency with their product and the iPad sounds like an Apple product and the PlayBook sounds like something you’d get from a toy company.
Now, they could have given it a Sports spin but they aren’t really a sports company so while ESPN could have brought out a product called the PlayBook RIM’s connection doesn’t lead you in that direction and the function of the product doesn’t lend itself to sports anyway.
At 7” it is smaller and should be less expensive than an iPad as 7” Android products like the Pandigital Novel sell for under $200. It will have a dual core processer, front and rear facing cameras with decent resolution (3 to 5 megapixel), and it connects to Blackberry Enterprise servers. Companies should certainly like this last feature.
They have also rolled out a rather unique advertising based application model tied back to 4 ad networks. This seems to be an attempt to make most of the applications free something that has been an advantage for Google but not so much the poorly funded Android application developer community.
For purchased applications, they have allowed for the carriers to bring out stores and allow the user’s purchases to appear on their cell phone bills.
Something that will work far better when the 3G and 4G devices show up later next year. RIM is waiving fees associated with submitting applications which would encourage application developers if there were some of these PlayBooks in market but, without customers, not so much.
So the device will be smaller, cheaper, have a more complex application purchase model with vastly fewer applications and one of the store concepts requires a 3G or 4G device which won’t initially be available. The word incomplete comes to mind.
In short - good hardware horrid timing.
Wrapping Up: Nice Product Horrid Execution
If you stand back and look at the product it really isn’t that bad and introduced in the right way (with a catchier name, a complete package including 3/4G and applications, and near term availability, and a low price) this thing could have given Apple one hell of a surprise.
However, announced months before it is available, with a name that sounds like something out of a children’s toy line, and incomplete it just comes across as lame.
Had Apple done this kind of thing with the iPad it would be a failure today rather than a success.
RIM has yet to learn that first impressions are important, timing is important, and people need names for products they can be proud of. RIM continues to do a nice job with hardware but underwhelm in terms of marketing and timing and that does not bode well for the company.