CES 2012 PlayBook owners should be getting native email next month, but as RIM's tablet gains independence it's also shifting away from the infrastructure which has served RIM so well.
RIM has been demonstrating the latest version of its PlayBook OS at CES, and has finally got native PIM applications running on the tablet – including email, contacts and calendar. But the PlayBook goes a good deal further in providing a universal inbox for all one's communications, as well as putting LinkedIn contacts on a par with business associates.
The CrackBerry blog has video showing the new native applications, which include a calendar that RIM calls "people-centric" and a contacts list which is apparently "relationship-centric", so if you're trying to remember when to start a relationship that's probably ideal. The new applications pull their data from the usual sources – notably LinkedIn and Twitter – not via cloud-based corporate aggregator but onto the tablet itself.
The fact that the PlayBook lacked a native email client at launch opened it up to much ridicule, despite RIM's hope that such functionality could be left to an accompanying BlackBerry handset. In RIM's world, every PlayBook owner had a BlackBerry, and the PlayBook's ability to operate as an extended BlackBerry screen rendered a native PIM redundant. Sadly for RIM, it wasn't a world where anyone else lived.
Last month RIM's CEO was forced to deny stories that it was having insurmountable difficulties porting BlackBerry's native email client to BlackBerry 10 OS – formerly known as QNX – which is used on the PlayBook, and at a glance this demonstration might seem belay those stories entirely.
But the native email being demonstrated by RIM is using Microsoft's ActiveSync protocol, and not via RIM's own infrastructure or protocols. And while the company makes great play of integrated social networking, there's no mention (in demonstrations or specifications) of BlackBerry's own, highly successful, messaging service BBM.
PlayBook 2.0 will support remote management with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion and separate work from personal stuff with BlackBerry Balance. Both of these integrate nicely into enterprise device management. There's also a corporate shelf in the application store, so employees can download company-specific applications – all of which is important if the PlayBook is going to make any headway into the enterprise space. ®