When RIM’s two CEOs, JimBalsillie and Mike Lazaridis, talked up their then-upcoming BlackBerry Playbooktablet in 2010 and early 2011, they sounded pretty confident (if somewhatincomprehensible) about its ability to taken on the iPad juggernaut, claiming to be“wayahead" and something about “lower-costmulticore environments” that provide the “highest performance and bestreliability.”There was a lot of talk, in very vague terms, about justhow awesome the BlackBerry Playbook was going to be, but very little about its actualfeatures -- the things you could do with it, the reasons you might want to buy it. Andwhen the tablet was unveiled last year, it became clear why: There kind of weren’tany. BlackBerry’s loyal following is due in no small part to two core services:easy-to-use, highly secure email, and the addictive BBM messaging platform. The Playbookshipped with neither of them. No calendar app, either. No contacts. For the tablet, somewere anticipating it as being the business-oriented solution to the iPad; the results werebaffling. This was RIM’s much-boasted-about iPad killer?Unsurprisingly,customers ignored the Playbook, which led to its recent weird price drop (all models arenow $299 -- that’s right, the 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB Playbooks are all the sameprice). This week atCES, RIM is announcing Playbook 2.0, a new version of the tablet’s OS thatfinally includes email, calendar, contacts, and a new browser (but still no BBM, asApple’s iMessage service looks poised to kick its ass around the block). Finally,users (if you can find any) can do the basic stuff you were supposed to be able to on aBlackBerry device all along. But RIM is now almost two years behind Apple, and a yearbehind Android tablet makers in finally delivering a usable device to market. Will it makea difference? Will customers start buying Playbooks in droves? We wouldn’t bet onit. Continue Reading

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