Even with all the competition it faces across the tablet space, and the fact that iPad owners recently updated their software to iOS 5, Research In Motion said yesterday that it's holding off on launching the second generation of its tablet software until next year.
"As much as we'd love to have it in your hands today, we've made the difficult decision to wait to launch BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 until we are confident we have fully met the expectations of our developers, enterprise customers and end-users," RIM senior vice president for the BlackBerry PlayBook David Smith wrote in a blog post yesterday.
Smith went on to say that his company doesn't expect to release the update until February. RIM had hoped to get the operating system to customers much sooner, saying in an earnings call last month that it would show off the OS in October and then launch it "thereafter."
The February launch date is a major issue for RIM and its tablet. Unlike Apple's iPad, the BlackBerry PlayBook lacks native e-mail, calendar, and messaging. In order for users to send out e-mails from the device, they need to have a BlackBerry smartphone connected to the tablet. PlayBook OS 2.0 is an integral component in RIM's strategy if it wants to even come close to establishing a foothold in the tablet space, since it will bring native e-mail, calendar, and contact apps to the device.
However, Smith also said in the blog post that his company has "decided to defer the inclusion of the BlackBerry Messenger application to a subsequent BlackBerry PlayBook OS release." He didn't say when it might finally come to the operating system, but he did say that users will continue to need a smartphone in order to send messages to other BlackBerry users from the tablet.
The timing on that announcement couldn't be worse for RIM. Earlier this month, Apple launched iOS 5, the latest version of its mobile platform. After downloading it to their devices, iPad owners were able to access iMessage, a platform that, like BlackBerry Messenger, lets users send free messages to others. Apple's iMessage works across the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.
Before February, RIM says that it will provide enterprise customers in its Early Adopter Program "a series of closed betas" to try out.
RIM showed off BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 at its Developers Conference last week. At the event, RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said that the PlayBook is integral to his company's plans going forward.
"We're absolutely committed to the BlackBerry PlayBook," Lazaridis said before attendees at the BlackBerry Developers Conference. "No doubt."