In keeping up with my personal trend of being an early technology investigator yet a late technology adopter, I made the leap into tablet computing later than most. I’ve written about my initial tablet computing experiences here, here and here. As you can tell, all around, I was extremely impressed by what Blackberry did with the PlayBook and its tight integration with their mobile phones through their “Bridge” application. The ability to use two devices yet share email, notes, calendars, contacts and network access seamlessly was extremely personally productive for me. Thus, when Blackberry announced the new Z10 phone that would run Blackberry’s new Blackberry 10 (BB10) operating system and support for 4G, I thought it was a good time to take advantage of my carrier’s aggressive reminders I was due for a new phone.
Just like my PlayBook experience, contrary to the industry punditry opinion, I was quite impressed with the Z10. Simple to operate, able to find all the basic productivity apps that I had come to rely on in the app store. Connecting the Z10 to the PlayBook continued to be a smooth process. So, with building enthusiasm I downloaded the “Bridge” app and looked forward to continued multi-device synchronous productivity.
Gone were those lovely calendar, contacts and email icons I had come to reply on. Replaced with a text file that stated something to the effect of “icons will return in the next version”. Ok, don’t panic. With all Blackberry has invested in the new phones and operating systems and me being an uncharacteristically for me early adopter, I’ll be patient and I’ll be back to full functionality in no time. The phone’s data plan is still extended through Bluetooth to the Playbook, so Blackberry didn’t take everything away. Unfortunately, I’m quick to discover that only native PlayBook apps can use that tethered data service. Non-native apps can’t and if I really want those to connect I have to fumble with making the phone a wifi hot spot.
Confidence builds as Blackberry makes announcement after announcement of the future platform and product investments. “Blackberry 10 coming to the PlayBook” was the most intriguing. The “hub” concept Blackberry introduced of bring everything, alters, emails, tweets, calendar events, Facebook, Linked In, etc. notifications into one easy to sort and manage list being replicated on the PlayBook and synchronized? Ok, I’m thinking Blackberry is really looking to support the productivity focused, not game distracted, mobile device user.
Then the announcement that I immediately new would direct me away from further Blackberry product investments: no BB10 coming to the PlayBook. To top that, additionally, no further investment in the PlayBook itself. With the challenges of keeping email and contact data between two devices that used just magically handle that for me coupled with the screen flickering and going out from all the abuse my poor tablet has suffered in my travels, I knew what my next decision would be:
My next mobile device purchase would not be a Blackberry product.
So, resigned that what was evolving into a very productive set of tools is not going to materialize, I proceeded to get my hands on Google’s new Nexus 7” tablet. The PlayBook now sits on the corner of my desk leaving me wondering what I should do with it since it was incredibly useful but the industry has propelled forward without bring it along. Old computer guy “get off my lawn” warning: anyone remember the Apple IIgs?