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At the BlackBerry World keynote presentation in Orlando Florida this morning, the biggest cheer was reserved for Research in Motion’s (RIM) announcement that Angry Birds will be coming to the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet device as a native app.
But the best news for Kiwis is that by the time the BlackBerry PlayBook arrives on our shores, it will be a complete package.
At its launch two weeks ago, the BlackBerry PlayBook seemed very much a tablet work in progress – email, Blackberry Messenger, calendar and browser were only accessible by tethering the device to a BlackBerry mobile phone, using an app called BlackBerry Bridge.
But by the end of “Summer” (which we understand to mean by the end of August, or thereabouts), there will be native BlackBerry email, browser, BBM and calendar apps, not to mention a range of games, enabled by Unity’s Union app-porting system. By August, we hear, there will also be Angry Birds for the PlayBook, and a selection of approved Android Apps available in BlackBerry’s App World. These developments all help add to the PlayBook’s appeal.
Not that the PlayBook is short on apps and features right now. This morning, RIM’s co-CEO Mike Lazaridis made much of the “true multitasking” that the PlayBook is capable of, as well as it’s full Flash Support on the Abode AIR-based interface.
In fact, it was hard to miss the pointed comparisons to that other fruity tablet, the Apple iPad, as Lazaridis emphasised how important RIM thinks Flash is to the experience on a tablet. Some 90% of games from top portals are Flash-based, he pointed out, as well as noting that the top 25 video properties in the US.
“We do not believe that the customer should have to put up with a compromised web experience,” he concluded, leaving the audience in no doubt about which tablet’s users were accepting compromise.
Also in for a swipe was Apple’s iTunes integration, as Lazaridis highlighted that updates for BB7 and the PlayBook are pushed out over Wi-Fi or 3G over the air, with “no need to connect to an app store or PC. You don’t have to look for updates, they come to you,” he said.
Adobe CEO and president Shantanu Narayen got on stage to announce Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, with the latest Flash builder which supports development of apps for the PlayBook. Adobe also said it will release a new Open Source framework with app dev tools.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer also made an appearance to talk about the integration of Microsoft’s Bing search engine into location aware search services – making special note of its mapping and local deals. Ballmer said that Bing was a deep part of the OS for PlayBook.
Facebook Vice President Carolyn Everson spoke about the new PlayBook Facebook app – the first Facebook app designed for a tablet interface. She made note of RIM’s 13million fans on Facebook, and spoke of bringing social networking into all aspects of apps.
In all, it’s hard to ignore that BlackBerry has its sights set on taking the fight right up to its competitors in the tablet market. With some 10% of BlackBerry’s more than 150million smartphone sales occurring in the last fiscal quarter, they may be onto something.
We’ll be providing further detail on the PlayBook, including a review, in the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out some pictures from the event on the next page.
RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis in front of BB stats
RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis showing off the huge range of apps
Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer in front of the BlackBerry banner at BlackBerry World, talking about Bing
Facebook VP Carolyn Everson talks about the importance of social in the mobile space
Android Player on BlackBerry Playbook - allowing you to play mutliple Android apps at once