Look out, Apple. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is now in the tablet business. And unlike Apple's highly popular iPad tablet, RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook fully embraces Adobe's Flash as well as Java.
After a week of rumours, RIM's PlayBook and Tablet OS were formally unveiled at the BlackBerry Developer Conference (DevCon 2010). Due to ship early next year in the United States, PlayBook is 9.7 millimetres thick with a seven inch, widescreen display. "The first time you hold it, it just feels right, and you want to take it home," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM.
"CIOs can rest assure the BlackBerry PlayBook is absolutely enterprise-ready," featuring integration with the BlackBerry smartphone, said Lazaridis. Users will not need new software, new security, or new IT administration or another data plan, he stressed. The device supports web browsing, stereo sound and a media player. BlackBerry users can pair the BlackBerry and PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection.
"BlackBerry PlayBook will support 1080p HD video," Lazaridis said. Non-proprietary HDMI and USB are supported as well. The device features hardware-accelerated video and, in addition to backing Flash Player 10.1, supports HTML5, Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) and Java. Developers can bring existing BlackBerry 6 Java applications to the PlayBook.
Apple, by contrast, has positioned HTML5 as a replacement for Adobe Flash on its own iPad and iPhone device, contending Flash is now unnecessary. Apple, which could not be immediately reached for comment about PlayBook, has rejected Java on its own devices as well. PlayBook features a 1GHz dual core processor taking advantage of symmetric multiprocessing. One GB of RAM is included along with WiFi 802.11 and Bluetooth support. Front- and rear-facing cameras are featured as well.
The POSIX-compliant BlackBerry Tablet OS is built on the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture, which has been leveraged previously in systems such as planes, trains, cars and medical equipment.
RIM said it will begin working with developers and select corporate customers next month to work on development and early testing.